Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)
New Theatre, Oxford

Seen Tuesday 24th August 2021
★★★★

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)

New Theatre, Oxford

–Gifted–

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Tuesday 24th August 2021

★★★★

Theatre is back! I am late saying those words because I haven’t had the chance to get to the theatre since everything started opening back up and it feels marvellous. 

What was even more marvellous was having Priscilla Queen of the Desert being the show to come back to! It was such a great show filled with everything camp, bright, colourful, sparkly and accompanied with complete bops (yes, I have just said bops!)

Based on the 1994 movie with the same name, Priscilla Queen of the Desert drops you in the heart of the Australian outback where Priscilla carries Tick, Adam and Bernadette in style to Alice Springs where they are set to perform. The journey is filled with several surprises, new relationships, and small towns where the flamboyant drag lifestyle isn’t welcomed with open arms. 

I have to say the script was my favourite part. It was so quick-witted that I found myself still laughing at the joke just delivered and missed the next one being fired! I always appreciate intelligent humour. So often can shows pack in crude joke after crude joke causing the audience to think ‘here we go again’ but this script was very different. There were the crude jokes and many innuendos but there was also a large number of really clever one liners that caught me off guard. Obviously with humour the delivery is paramount and this cast definitely delivers the humour. 

The choreography began to get a little repetitive but this was forgiven with the amount of energy the cast put into it. There were a couple of costumes that caught my eye but not always in the good way. I love drag and all of the glitz and glamour associated with the wardrobe so my eyes were very much analysing every piece on stage. There were a few numbers where, to me, the costumes detracted from the choreography and looked bulky not allowing for fluid movements. Within the cast there was a great diversity of body types which in my opinion you don’t get to see as often on stage especially for female cast members so that was incredibly refreshing. With this I feel as if the wardrobe department neglected some of the costumes with focus on the trench coats that made appearances several times during the show. It didn’t appear they were all tailored to the individual bodies leaving some cast members looking a little drowned in the coats. 

However, apart from that little nag there literally wasn’t anything else to fault. It was such a fabulous night out and one that I would highly recommend for people who have missed the theatre and are a little apprehensive about going back. The whole auditorium was filled with such energy that it was very easy to forget what this past year and a half has entailed. There is no way you can sit there and not feel happy with the songs that flood the theatre. The story does take some dark turns but I loved the fact that as soon as the opening bars of the next number were heard, a subtle murmur through the auditorium started with the realisation that although the scene was sad, the music irony wasn’t going to let it stay there. 

I think at the moment this is something we all need as well as delivering the message that every show is echoing: I will survive. If that isn’t the message we all need at the moment then I have no idea what we need. 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert will be at New Theatre Oxford until 28th August 2021 before continuing with its UK Tour. 

Information and tickets for New Theatre Oxford can be found here.

Information, venue and tickets for the rest of the tour can be found here

Stay safe, wear a mask and enjoy the theatre! 

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (An Ellen Kent Production) – REVIEW

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (An Ellen Kent Production) – REVIEW

New Theatre, Oxford

★★★★★

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (An Ellen Kent Production)

New Theatre, Oxford

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen January 25th, 2020

★★★★★

This was stunning. An easy 5 stars!

This was the second night of Ellen Kent’s opera productions at New Theatre in Oxford and I thought I’d enjoy La Bohème more. I was very wrong. La Bohème was enjoyable but Madama Butterfly took my initial thoughts of Ellen Kent’s productions to another level.

Another romantic opera set in the heart of Japan, tells the story of a young Japanese woman who falls in love with a visiting American lieutenant. It’s a heart-breaking romance.

Having seen another Ellen Kent production the night prior, it was clear to see that this production got the bigger budget and more attention. It all worked so wonderfully on stage. The initial teething problems with sound from night one had gone. It was obviously the warm up for this spectacular piece.

It was magical hearing the orchestra in all its glory. The music just radiated through you and sent chills down your spine. But then to have that accompanied by the vocals of the talented cast just heightened the whole experience. That was the vibe I expected from an opera. The cast were not holding back. They really gave their all and the outcome was beautiful.

The emotion was raw. Elena Dee was mesmerising as Cio-Cio San. I’ve heard she’s been working on perfecting her role at the end of the show (no spoilers from me! but you probably know where it’s going) and I have to say…I was blown away. It was so moving. Not only the acting but the pain portrayed in her voice.

I adore how poetic the lyrics are. Being able to read the surtitles was great. As we’re talking about the surtitles, I really enjoyed the variation in speed that people were reading them. There are some point which are quiet funny and some people in the audience were a lot quicker at reading them than others resulting in an echo of chuckles. It just made me realise that everybody was getting their own unique experience. It hit home how subjective opera can be and moves people in different ways.

I can definitely see why this production of Madama Butterfly won the ‘best opera award’ from Liverpool Daily Post Theatre awards. Just like a butterfly, Madama Butterfly was splendid to watch.

The same as La Bohème, Madama Butterfly has just began its tour of the UK with many more dates seeing it through until April 2020. Personally, I highly recommend this piece. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show.

Click here for more information on upcoming venues and tickets.

Puccini’s La Bohème (An Ellen Kent Production) – REVIEW

Puccini’s La Bohème (An Ellen Kent Production)

New Theatre, Oxford 

★★★★

Puccini’s La Bohème (An Ellen Kent Production)

New Theatre, Oxford

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen January 24th, 2020

★★★★

Arguably one of the most romantic operas ever written, Puccini’s La Bohème sees a young poet and seamstress meet and fall in love. It’s a story of struggles with poverty and health and how this blossoming romance holds under the pressure.

This was a nice production however there were a few things that I could not overlook. I was toying between giving La Bohème three or fours stars. Having now seen another Ellen Kent production, four stars for this is the correct choice. In reflection it would have been far too harsh to give this moving production three stars.

The main purpose of the opera was met. It was vocally beautiful and heartbreaking. It started off rather quiet. There were definitely sound issues. Everything felt a little lost on the stage. The vocals, the acting and the orchestra. Thankfully as the show progressed it started to assert its dominance.

My main critique of the show is how ‘DIY’ it felt. The set and costumes looked so cheap even from a distance. In a way I’m glad we had the surtitles because it distracted from those factors. It’s harsh, I know but it all screamed cheap and very nearly overpowered the show.

Alyona Kistenyova who played Mimi provided endless emotion and constant vocals throughout. She definitely dazzled more in act 1…of 3. The other cast members, although vocally sound, faded into the background. It is a shame but I suppose the opera is all about the music and the voice. These are the main components that carry you on that huge emotional journey. It definitely did that.

All in all, I really enjoyed the evening. I know it seems like a heavily criticised the show. I think for me, an opera is this huge grand experience and unfortunately, this production of La Bohème missed the mark and didn’t match my expectation. Dare I say it felt like a high school production. A good one! But still very much a high school production with a few professional voices dotted through.

This production of La Bohème has just began it’s UK tour and there are plenty of dates left to catch it. More information on upcoming venue and tickets can be found here.

 

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – REVIEW

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – REVIEW

Dominion Theatre, London

★★★★

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical – Gala Performance

Dominion Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Mark Sykes

Seen November 25th, 2019

★★★★

This reviewer, at the ripe old age of 55(!), has literally spent a lifetime watching the classic White Christmas movie, so having missed out on seeing this production when it premiered at the Curve, Leicester in December 2018, I was really looking forward to finally seeing this story come to life on-stage – and thankfully the evening lived up to my expectations.

Without getting too much into the details of a story that no doubt the majority of readers will be familiar with, it focuses on two WW2 army veterans (Wallace and Davis) who become a major song-and-dance act after their careers end. They bump into the Haynes sisters, who are also a popular song-and-dance act with a burgeoning career. They all end up at a winter lodge in Vermont that is sadly lacking any snow. Wallace and Davis bump into their former General, the owner of the lodge, who has bills piling up as the lack of snow means a dearth of paying customers. Wallace, Davis and the Haynes sisters concoct a plan to put on a Christmas concert at the lodge to help out the General. The parallel story is one of love between the army veterans and the two sisters – one relationship comes easy, the other needs some matchmaking to be done!

The staging at the Dominion Theatre focuses on the barn at the lodge where the Christmas concert is to be held. The simple wooden structure enables the various sets to seamlessly transition between scenes, whether it’s a New York ballroom, a train carriage, or the reception of the Vermont lodge. Interestingly, the band were situated on-stage to the left of the audience and split over two levels of the barn. For me this worked well (as it wasn’t a large orchestra) and enabled them to support some of the scenes more effectively than if they’d been hidden away elsewhere. I particularly loved the neon lighting that often featured in the set design created by Michael Taylor, and overall everything worked well whether it was simple or complex scene.

The highlights of the show for me happened on the big song-and-dance numbers. The vast expanse of the Dominion stage provided ample space for all of the cast to be involved in Stephen Mear’s wonderful choreography. On more than one occasion these big numbers had me thinking back to the recent hit production of 42nd Street which was impressively led by Clare Halse, and which is fitting seeing as that Clare is one of the Haynes sisters and is tremendous throughout. The other sister is Danielle Hope, she has the most wonderful voice and who I last saw demonstrating her vocal prowess in concert at The Other Palace back in the summer. Clare and Danielle work well together as sisters with excellent dynamics between the two of them.

Danny Mac as Wallace and Dan Burton as Phil Davis wouldn’t seem out of place in the original movie. They have the looks, can sing the American songbook, and have dancing skills that make it look so effortless. Following on in the footsteps of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is an enormous undertaking, but they do the show justice – never more so than in the big energetic song-and-dance numbers previously mentioned. It’s on those occasions that the Dominion really comes alive and takes on a different dimension.

General Waverley is played by Michael Brandon. Again, showing my age here, Michael became particularly well-known in the UK as a result of the 80’s TV series Dempsey & Makepeace, of which I was a big fan. It was great to see him on stage, and this native New Yorker was perfect casting for the ageing (sorry Michael!) American General. Brenda Edwards was the crafty receptionist at the lodge charged with keeping both the lodge and the General under control. A former X Factor contestant from 2005, Brenda has a wonderful voice that when she lets rip, makes you immediately think of her standing up in church delivering a gospel classic. Which is ideal seeing as she’s appearing as Deloris in the Sister Act UK tour in 2020.

All of the cast were wonderful. Whether it was the singing, the dancing or the numerous comedic moments, there wasn’t one weak link. There is one other person that I would like to highlight though, and that is the General’s niece. This role is alternated across three children and for the Gala night it was Erin Rushidi. Erin was truly outstanding, particularly with the comic timing, and pretty much stole every scene that she was in. The audience loved her! She is a tremendous talent and definitely one to watch out for in the future.

As for the show itself, it gets off to a slightly slow start as the foundations of the story are built at the start of act one in the army days, but that quickly moves on and then the rest of the show pretty much flies by. Song after familiar song happens apace, and whilst you’re waiting in anticipation for ‘that’ final scene, you can’t help but revel in the visual feast in front of your eyes. There are some wonderful costumes, designed by Diego Pitarch.

This production follows the storyline very closely, and there were a number of times when I was getting quite emotional seeing elements of the movie come to life in front of my very eyes. Whilst the finale was always going to be a special moment, another highlight was when Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes sang ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’. Danny Mac and Danielle Hope performed this beautifully, and yes there may well have been a tear in my eye at the end of that song. So, to the finale itself, White Christmas. This was everything I wanted it to be. Yes, we all know what happens when the barn doors are opened, but it was fabulous to see this scene come to life and the snow begin to fall.

Director Nikolai Foster has done a brilliant job with this production. I suspect the majority of audience members will be familiar with the story and have seen the movie before (who hasn’t?!); well none of these should leave disappointed. Yes, some elements of the storyline and some of the jokes may seem dated in the 21st century, but if you walk into the theatre putting all that aside, you will find yourself with a definite smile on your face, a chuckle here and there (well actually, quite a few chuckles!), and a propensity to want to sing along! And on that latter point, everyone gets the opportunity to do that at the end.

Even the most hardened of hearts cannot fail to be softened by what they see and hear in this production. Everyone will be leaving the theatre with a smile on their face, maybe a few tears in their eyes, and no doubt looking forward to seeing the movie on TV again this Christmas. For me, I’m seeing the show again over the Christmas period, and I can’t give a better recommendation than that!

White Christmas will be continuing to provide cheer during this festive season. Be sure to catch this winter warmer. More information on the show and tickets can be found here.

Slave Play – REVIEW

Slave Play

Golden Theatre, New York 

★★★★★

Slave Play

Golden Theatre, New York

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen October 30th, 2019

★★★★★

When it comes to plays, I’m a very difficult audience member to ‘move’. I’m ginger. Soulless. Thinking back, there is only one play that comes to mind which captivated me and evoked some emotional response. But it did not leave me in my seat, unable to move until I could start to process some of what I just witnessed. There is a first for everything and Slave Play was that first for me. It’s played on my mind for hours, days, weeks.

I’m not even sure where to start of if I should post this.

Will my ramblings do the show justice?

Hell no!

It is one that you just have to see with your own eyes.

Jeremy O. Harris has created something which is revealing and brutally honest of the world we live in.

The play was totally not what I was expecting. Actually, I’m not 100% sure what I was expecting. I thought it would be a very serious, historical play about race and inequality. Silly me for assuming I could accept this show and title for face value. It was very much about those things but immediately threw you into the deep end and just when you thought you had the gist of it, Jeremy O. Harris threw in this mega curve ball which completely obliterates your current perception.

It’s a fascinating show where the discomfort it creates draws you further in. I felt uncomfortable but at the same time, I couldn’t snap out of the trance the show put me in. Audience members could approach it in two ways: either look away and attempt to ignore it (although the panels of mirrored glass made it impossible for you to do so) or you could run with it. Get into it and see the honest answers break free from the inter-racial couples in the therapy group.

I want to draw attention to the huge mirrors for a brief moment. They formed the back wall of the stage. What a genius idea! Having a show this ballsy and the audience facing this huge towering wall of mirrors was brilliant. There was absolutely nowhere to hide. You were constantly being watched, both by fellow audience members and the cast on stage regardless of where they were positioned. Yet, in a strange way, it provided an element of comfort because we were all in it together witnessing groundbreaking theatre.

In my honest opinion, which may ruffle some feathers, those who don’t like the show and take offence will be the ones which have just experienced a show that has come very close to the bone for them.

For me, this is an outstanding piece of theatre that opened my eyes further. It encouraged me to re-evaluate the world we live in.

The prime example of what great theatre should do.

(Public apology: This write up has not done the show ANY justice! This is just me rambling about, possibly, the very best piece of theatre I have seen.)

You’re all just going to have to take my word for it. Run to get tickets because this show isn’t around for long. It must close on January 19th 2020. Click here for more information of the show and to snap up tickets.

Soho Cinders – REVIEW

Soho Cinders – REVIEW

Charing Cross Theatre, London 

★★★★★

Soho Cinders

Charing Cross Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Katie Middlebrook

Seen October 29th, 2019

★★★★★

You Shall Go To The Ball!

Soho Cinders is a musical, loosely based on the story of Cinderella. It has music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe with Elliot Davis as co-author. The action is based in the heart of London in Soho. The musical first showcased in 2008, followed by a gala concert in 2011. The soundtrack was also then released in 2011.

Soho Cinders is a modern musical which mixes politics and true love in a story about a boy called Robbie. Robbie is in the midst of running his late mother’s laundrette, paying for rent to his two ugly-step sisters and becoming romantically involved with the engaged mayoral candidate, James Prince. James and Robbie’s worlds collide, forcing them to fight for their true love and happy ending in this hilarious twist on the classic Cinderella story. The Charing Cross theatre is currently holding the most recent rendition of Soho Cinders. 

The show opens with the fun upbeat number ‘Old Compton Street’. This song is full of dance breaks, harmonies throughout and a chance to see all of the characters and get an introduction to the storyline. This is also where we first meet our Cinderella character who is played by Luke Bayer. 

Luke plays Robbie who is our leading man in the show. Luke has played a leading role before as the alternate Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and he definitely does not disappoint in this new role. The emotion and energy Luke puts into every song he sings is breathe-taking. The score of this show is quite poppy and definitely fits Luke’s voice very well. His acting and comedy value comes across so easily, you are rooting for him to have the happy ending he deserves by the end of the show.

The second song in the show is a song called ‘Wishing For The Normal’, which is sung by Robbie and best friend Velcro who is played by Millie O’Connell. This song shows the beautiful friendship Robbie and Velcro have. Luke and Millie bounce off each other when they are on stage together, the chemistry has you constantly smiling and laughing at the banter Robbie and Velcro have with each other. 

The score of the show is very catchy, I came out singing the songs over and over again. Two songs definitely stood out as my favourites. The first being ‘They Don’t Make Glass Slippers’ which comes at a very poignant moment in the show. It is sung by Luke and really show cases his beautiful vocal rang and the emotion he shows when performing. The second song is ‘You Shall Go To The Ball’ which is the last song in Act one. It is a fun dance number where you see multiple of the different storylines moulding into one. 

Act one ends with ‘You Shall Go To The Ball’ and leaves everyone singing the catchy song in the interval. The first act ends with a big cliff hanger which leaves you wanting to find out what happens next.

A highlight of the show for me was definitely the two stepsisters. There comedy throughout the show is absolutely hilarious it left the audience in stitches. They have two duets together, but my favourite definitely has to be ‘I’m So Over Men’. The stepsisters are played by Michaela Stern and Natalie Harman. Michaela is also co-producing the show along with Will Keith and Kyle Tovey.

The show ends with a very catchy curtain call which has you foot tapping or even up on your feet dancing along with the cast as they have a ball on stage. 

Soho Cinders is on at The Charing Cross Theatre until December 21st. Do not miss out on this spectacular show! It is not one you want to miss.

King Kong – REVIEW

King Kong – REVIEW

Broadway Theatre, New York

★★★★

King Kong

Broadway Theatre, New York

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen June 4th, 2019

★★★★

King Kong appears to have not taken the crown this Broadway season after announcing its final performance will take place on August 18th 2019. It has been a competitive season with film to musical adaptations dominating The Great White Way.

Unlike the other film to musical shows, King Kong had the upper hand. A unique, out of this world way of bringing the legendary Kong to the stage. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to ensure a longer run.

Following the story of the film with the same title, King Kong takes you on board the filming voyage from New York to Skull Island. Unbeknownst to the cast and crew, they had just invaded the king of the jungle’s territory. An unlikely bond is forged between the lead actress Ann Darrow (Christiani Pitts however at this performance we had a cover, Lissa DeGuzman) on the film shoot and Kong.

The plot and script were the biggest downfall. It fell completely flat. However, King Kong has an advantage because everything else is done to such a high standard, the audience are willing to forgive the lack of plot. I know that I was. The audience is so entranced in Kong himself that the story takes a backseat. I’m inclined to say it’s a blessing for the show.

Even before we laid eye on Kong, the audience witnessed a stunning transition on stage. In the midst of wonderful choreography, the back of the stage elevated to create the bow of the ship. Something I was not expecting! I had heard of the boat scene prior to seeing the show. In fact, reviewer Mark had seen the show and commented on this. He admitted it made him feel a little nauseous which I completely understand now! I was towards the rear of the orchestra, safely in row U but I can see why people would feel that way when sitting close to the stage. Especially with no fixed features in their peripheral vision.

The direction of the show was stunning with the pinnacle being the huge revealing of Kong. I really appreciated how it was a gradual introduction and not a sudden thing for the audience. The suspense was meticulously crafted. The auditorium fell silent. The sound was incredible, and you felt as if you were right there in the cave. I really lost it when the teeth became visible. The gradual reveal was almost too much to handle! I will never forget my friend looking over at me and laughing because my mouth was wide open, and I was edging further forward in my seat. She had seen the show before and knew what to expect however for me, I really felt like a little kid. Very rarely do you find theatre which makes you feel that way.

As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough to see a cover in the role of  Ann Darrow. Lissa DeGuzman had a gorgeous stage presence. I can’t imagine how daunting it would be to share the stage with Kong. It would be so easy to be upstaged and cast into the shadows however DeGuzman did a fabulous job of drawing the focus to herself to avoid this. They were able to share the stage harmoniously and really complimented each other.

The puppetry control of Kong was mind-blowing! Props to the design team and team operating Kong during the show! Every single one of you reminded me why theatre is so special. It is moments like that that make it.

All in all, the technical side of this show completely outweighed the lack of story. It truly is a stunning piece and I urge you to see it!

With a little over a month left of its run, head to https://kingkongbroadway.com/index.php for more information on the show and for tickets.

 

Chit-Chat and Tea with Jaymi Hensley

Jaymi Hensley is currently starring at Joseph in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Here he chats about the role of Joseph.

Jaymi Hensley is currently starring at Joseph in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The tour has numerous stops around the UK from now until February 2020 so you have plenty of time to catch him in action!

For our readers near the Bath, Bristol and Oxford area, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be playing at New Theatre, Oxford from Tuesday 16th July to Saturday 20th July 2019.

Below, Jaymi chats about the role of Joseph.

What is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat about?

It’s based on a biblical story about Joseph the dreamer. He has 11 brothers, but he’s his father’s favourite and his Dad gives him a coloured dreamcoat as a gift. His brothers get very jealous and hatch a plan to kill him, but instead he gets taken to Egypt as a slave and is sent to prison. Fate is on Joseph’s side however and despite trying times, he eventually becomes the prince of Egypt.

Joseph has got something special. It has all these markers that made me think of my life. I had people, not brothers, but contemporaries at school, who told me I couldn’t be what I wanted to be. I’m a dreamer; I wanted to be a star. I also had something that made me different; being a gay man and finding out at a young age.

I always had my head in the clouds, but I was always sure of who I was and I never let what anyone said deter me. That’s how I approached Joseph, with the message that as long as you stand by who you are, eventually the rest of the world will see how wonderful you are too.

Is that what drew you to the role?

It just felt right. Theatre was always my first love. I always envisioned myself on stage every day. But life took a different turn.

I believe in the universe giving you signs and the tools you need to make things happen. I did panto with Jimmy Osmond, who’s done Joseph, and then I met Joe McElderry, who’d also played Joseph. All these signs were there. It was so bizarre. It just felt like I need to do this. And I’ve never felt like I’m more in the right place at the right time than I do right now.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is 50 years old this year. How do you think this show has stood the test of time?

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are the best. They wrote this musical at university! The songs are timeless. I think that is the one word to use. You have songs here that, in 2019, don’t have to be modernised. We’re not changing anything at all. That’s testament to how well written they are. I know how dated the music I released in the last seven years is already, just listening to the charts!

How did it feel to put on theatre’s most famous coat for the first time on stage?

At my opening night in Windsor, that moment was when I got an out-of-body, hairs on the back of your neck moment. I had goosebumps everywhere and was rushing with emotion. This is just such an amazing show to be a part of. I’m honoured that they’re letting me take the torch.

What’s most exciting about touring the show?

What I love about a touring show is people are so grateful that you’re coming to see them, that you’re doing the leg work. People really appreciate that.

I’m really looking forward to going to places I’ve never been before and finding new audiences. I love being on the road. Although I’ve been a pop star for the last seven years, being on stage is the thing I’ve done the least. It was all about being on TV or in a studio. The stage is what I love. I love being live in front of an audience, so to do it 10 times a week, I couldn’t be happier.

What is it that makes live performance so special?

It’s the seeing sweat on someone’s face, the passion and the being in the room with them. You can’t beat that. Especially singing, you can’t beat live music and hearing that passion come from someone’s voice. As a performer, you have to impress there and then; there’s no rerun, it’s now or never. That added pressure is what makes theatre so amazing.

At the start of 2019, you announced Union J were splitting for now. How do you look back on your time with that band?

I have the fondest memories of that project, even when things were tough for us. You need to have those moments to give you a sense of how much it means to you. I’ll be forever grateful to that band for giving me what it’s given me and the joy we’ve had over the years. In my adult life I’ve only done what I love. Very few people can say that. I would never take that for granted.

People might think it a little self-indulgent, but I watch back our YouTube videos and listen to our music. I’m very proud of what we achieved as, initially, three young kids who set out to do something and made it happen. We were all so determined.

One day, hopefully, we can get back together and do a reunion and be together at a different time in life when it’s right again. As much as we were a band, we are individual people and we have individual passions, hopes and aspirations. In every good relationship you have to let the other person flourish.

What can audiences expect from a trip to see Joseph?

It’s a real feel good musical. The music’s fun, it’s bright and colourful, and we have the most amazing, talented cast. The world at the moment is so depressing; I think everybody should come for a couple of hours of detachment from reality, and have a fun, uplifting time.

More information on the show, upcoming venues, dates and tickets can be found here.

 

Syndicated Interview

Fiver – REVIEW

Fiver – REVIEW

Southwark Playhouse, London

★★★★★

Fiver

Southwark Playhouse, London

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince and Katie Middlebrook

Seen July 5th, 2019

★★★★★

This review will be slightly different to our usual. Creator, Jade, and reviewer, Katie, are teaming up to share their love for Fiver. Having both seen the show, so many similar thoughts and opinions were shared. There’s just gonna be double the love! 

Fivers, something we take for granted but are rarely seen nowadays due to societies preference of contactless payment. Exchanging hundreds of thousands of hands in its lifetime yet so easily forgotten the moment it leaves your fingertips. Have you ever paused after a transaction to think about that fiver and the journey its about to embark on? 

For two hours you will bear witness to roughly half a dozen intertwining stories and how the same fiver touched their lives individually. 

Straight away, we need to express our need for a cast recording! Very rarely you find a show where each next song becomes your new favourite. It is typical for the odd song or two to fall short however this is not the case for the score of Fiver. Every song can hold its own. It was refreshing to hear so many genres of music in one musical. This aspect kept the audience engaged and excited with anticipation for what was to come next. Lyrically, the score was stunning. This ranged from the comedy sprinkled throughout to the deeper meaning behind the lyrics. There were also so many which the audience could relate to on a personal level. It is safe to say that Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees have very brights futures ahead of them not just with this show but with future creations. 

The concept of the show was wonderful. It is a very simple concept however didn’t just glide over the surface, it delved deep into realistic personal stories. It wasn’t the generic run of the mill story which it could have been. You could see the amount of time and effort and creative skill which has been pumped into the story. This really resinated with the audience through its relatable nature. It should also be noted that at no point did the story feel predictable. 

With shows that follow numerous intertwining stories, there is always the risk that the audience will be lost along the way. With Fiver, there was a seamless connection between each story and character. This was helped as the audience were guided through by Alex James Ellison who took the role of the ‘narrator’. His warm, welcoming personality immediately drew the audience in. 

From the get go, it was evident that the fourth wall would not make an appearance. With the show having an intimate story line the removal of the fourth wall really added to the audience’s experience and allowed them to embark on a rollercoaster of emotion.

Although some sombre story lines were looked at in act 1, the perfectly crafted comedy which built throughout act 2 really made this a heartwarming show. One notable scene was the proposal preparation and the joy brought to the stage by Luke Bayer and Aoife Clesham as they portrayed cheeky youngsters. 

The final point to make is the way the score so beautifully allowed each cast member to demonstrate their vocal range individually but also to provide glorious harmonies throughout. 

This is a well rounded, heartwarming show which is perfectly executed. The foundations have been set for Fiver to achieve big things. We cannot wait to see this shows development and will be there every step of the way. 

Fiver is showing at the Southwark Playhouse until 20th July 2019 and trust when we say this is not one you want to miss. More information about the show and tickets can be found here.

Hair (UK tour) – REVIEW

Hair (UK tour) – REVIEW

New Theatre, Oxford

★★★

Hair (UK Tour)

New Theatre, Oxford

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen June 26th, 2019

★★★

Slap bang in the middle of the East Village of New York City in 1967, a tribe of hippies want to let the sun shine in despite the ongoing Vietnam War. Inquisitive minds seeking for a way to change the world and redefining authority by uniting the world with music.

The ‘tribe’ was interesting however joining is not something on the agenda here at Ginger in the Theatre. It is sad to say but love did not strike our heart.

I had big hopes for Hair after its sold-out run at The Vaults in London. Having now seen the show, I’m not really sure what people saw.

The music was great and it is definitely something I will be adding to my Spotify playlist however the whole package lacked the oomph a ‘wild, colourful, sexually liberated and free’ show should have possessed.

The only thing I will be raving about is the harmonies throughout. The cast sounded so dreamy on stage, giving me goosebumps many times. The highlight being towards the end of “Let the Sun Shine In”.

Even writing this now, I am so confused as to what happened in the show. Not due to the plot being complicated but simple because there was no plot. The tiniest bit of storyline I could grasp onto with the tips of my fingers was Claude (Paul Wilkins) being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. Apart from that I am still at a loss as to what the plot was. And then to top it off, we had an abrupt ending! I can’t deal with abrupt endings! The whole audience was unsure on whether we were to expect more. There was a strong feeling of disappointment radiating around the auditorium.

From a technical point of view, the sound quality was not great and the music over powered the vocals. This made it really difficult to hear the lyrics resulting in the audience disconnecting from the plot (or what limited plot there was).

To put a positive spin on this review, the set was aesthetically pleasing. It was a lovely touch having the subtle colour change during the ‘trip’ scene at the beginning of act 2. The black light was able to pick up UV colours hidden within set. It was something I wasn’t expecting and also a very cleaver addition to ensure that the actual trip was distinguishable from the already psychedelic reality.

It was a somewhat enjoyable show however I found myself willing the next number on. The dialogue felt unnecessary and did nothing to aid the story. I think I would have preferred just the musical numbers, one after the other.

For more information on the show, tickets and remaining venues on the tour, click here.

Beetlejuice – 33 reasons for a trip to the Netherworld!

Seek a little strange and unusual and you will find…Beetlejuice!

Written by Jade Prince

(Spoilers may or may not be encountered)

That is your warning. Enjoy 🙂

1. Love for the 1988 film 

It’s a classic. It’s loved by all ages. A prime example of the old ones being the best! It’s creepy, funny and manic with the musical capturing it all!

2. Winter Garden Theatre

It’s a stunning theatre which has housed some huge shows including Cats and School of Rock. The theatre has now been given a new lease of life in the Netherworld. All the kooky music and lighting! From the moment you enter the theatre, you are transported to the Netherworld.

Side note: If we get a physical cast album, can the pre-show music been a bonus feature?! That would be the theme song of my apartment!

3. The cast recording (out now! Go buy/stream!!)

On. Repeat. For. Days.

Sometimes cast recordings don’t stand alone however this one is very comfortable out there! All the little details are included but more importantly you can listen to that insanely talented cast whenever you want!

Its a buffet of different styles. As cliché as it sounds, Eddie Perfect (Music & Lyrics) is living up to his name…PERFECT! *cringe* There, we said it.

Out now! Go get it! I’d say ‘go listen to it right now’ but finish reading, first. After 🙂 

4. The fabulous, loving cast

(Reminder: meeting the cast at stage door is not a given when you purchase a ticket for the show. Don’t be a dick if they don’t come out. Treat them with love and respect…simple!)

I have been fortunate enough to meet pretty much the whole cast at stage door and I can say, hand on my heart, I have never met a cast who have been that welcoming, humble and polite at stage door. The time they give to the fans following the show is heartwarming. It’s a rare sight. They do 8 shows a week and normally have packed schedules in between.

But it’s not just meeting fans. You can really see they love and respect each other as a cast. This shines through on stage making their performance a joy to watch!

5. Sophia Anne Caruso 

For those who have seen her perform, you know the deal. She’s a star!

For for those who haven’t seen the show or heard that name, straight off the bat, get used to hearing that name because she is gonna be big! At 17, she has more professionalism than most people who have been in the business for year! Her performance was flawless. Vocally perfect and consistent each time I’ve seen her perform.

As Lydia, she broke my heart in act 2. The vulnerability and pain penetrated that auditorium. The first time I saw the show, even in the very back row of the mezzanine, she made me wince.

That’ll be something that stays with me for a long time.

Sophia is such a diverse actress and so wonderfully displays all the different layers to Lydia.

6. The merchandise

Broadway does it better! Sorry, west end.

They’ve got everything covered. I walked out with far too much. I have a problem.

There’s the standard T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and magnets however it is the only place where breathers can pick up their very own copy of the ‘Handbook for the Recently Deceased’

7. The crew 

Show crews never get enough respect! We wanna give them some love!

The types of scene changes these guys do are incredible! And the audience never hears a peep! I know that sounds really weird to pick up on but I have seen big professional shows where you can hear the crew thumping around backstage. Little things like this appease me.

8. Costumes 

William Ivey Long has remained loyal to the film but has managed to put a brand-new spin on the style! Although the silhouettes appear very standard, up close they are stunning works of art. The layering of fabrics and colours can easily be overlooked. I urge you to take a moment and really look when you see the show.

Scenes to focus on are the opening number and Lydia’s dress in the finale. During the opening number, the mourners are obviously shrouded in black however the fabric has been selected with such precision. William Ivey Long has layered fabric upon fabric to add extra dimension and to provide the Burton-esque package. During an interview, Sophia Anne Caruso revealed that there are hidden undertones of blue in her finale dress and the link this has to a beetle’s shell.

It really is fascinating and such an important element of the show!

9. Big Sandy

We love Big Sandy! Retaining the icon look from the film, she only appears a handful of times during the show but is definitely a scene-stealer!

10. Female power

Lydia, Barbara and Delia are three strong women and make an awesome trio! Each character is going through their own struggles but still push forward to make the best of their current situation.

They take control.

11. Hilarious one-liners

The script to this show is another level. The years of editing and tweaking have truly paid off. It has been crafted so meticulously with comedy woven throughout. I have never known a script to provide so many memorable one-liners.

12. Lydia taking centre stage 

The plot follows the same path as the movie however a slight change of focus has been made. The movie plot focused on Beetlejuice as the lead character whereas the musical has bumped Lydia from a supporting character to the lead and she even takes the final bow!

Lydia’s grief is explored in more detail and it is clearer to see the impact losing her mother has had.

But fear not hard core fans of the film! Beetlejuice has far more stage time than the film!

13. Day-O

Can you even have Beetlejuice without Day-O?!

14. Shake, shake, shake.

Oh, or shake, shake, shake, Senora!

15. All the magic! 

There are so many awesome illusions and effects dotted throughout the show. From fire, to puppets, to pyro, all of this combined with the show’s other elements is a feast for the eyes!

16. Levitation 

Linking in with the previous point, cast members actually levitate. It is quiet literally a no-strings-attached kind of deal!

17. All the iconic movie scenes and lines

You get them all. The Deetz arriving in the Maitland’s house. The dinner scene. Entering the Netherworld. Even the set up of the finale is pretty much identical to the film! But it all has its very own unique and modernised twist.

Since seeing Beetlejuice on Broadway, I have re-watched the film and had my little mind blown by just how many lines are kept in the musical script!

18. The beloved characters returning 

It’s a quirky family!

19. The new characters 

They slip straight in. A natural fit!

20. Alex Brightman 

Has there ever been a guy as sweet, genuine and kind?

No. No there hasn’t. A rare gem in the industry.

The level of energy he brings to Beetlejuice is exhausting to watch but you can’t look away! He commands your attention. The whole character of Beetlejuice feels brand-new with his interpretation.

We have so much love and respect for Alex!

21. Character development 

This was the element where the film lacked the most. Along with the change in lead characters, every character has been focused on in order to see their development from start to finish. The most obvious is Beetlejuice and Lydia. You can now see Beetlejuice go on this chaotic journey where he desperately wants to be alive and accepted by people but is using all the wrong techniques to win people over. You can see little glimmers of him learning how to deal with the living.

With Lydia, you can see she is struggling to deal with the loss of her mother and is also desperately seeking for something to make her complete. An inner strength is found.

I adore the character development of Delia and the information about her past which is dropped here and there during the show. Some laugh out loud moments!

22. Tackling topics such as mental health and grief 

Mental health is more discussed nowadays however it still has a long way to go. Beetlejuice shows how grief and mental health can come as a pair but also how it can be overlooked for younger people suffering.

Death is obviously very prominent in the show and is typically a taboo subject in society which everyone avoids. Beetlejuice the musical has this awesome ability to show that it should be discussed, it shouldn’t be as feared and that we should be grabbing/cherishing every single moment life gives us.

23. Lyrics

They’re clever, witty and memorable. But they also have this ability to evoke so many emotions. One moment they’ll have you on this high, chuckling away and the next completely shatter your heart. The heart shattering moments do not last long before you are swept up on another high!

But bottom line is, you’re gonna leave the show with the lyrics stuck in your head! That’s a given!

24. The message delivered in the show 

It’s heartwarming. Everyone will take a different message away but for me, the message I got was life is far too short. You need to take the rough with the smooth and when it is difficult, you need to buckle down, find the good and keep going.

Happiness is up to me!

25. The set

It’s big and crazy just like Beetlejuice! The main set goes through 4 different changes during the show. And it’s HUGE! In between all of that you have the small set pieces. It’s all so beautiful to look at! So much has been packed into the set and hidden away. They’re are bits that catch you off guard and you feel like a little kid again!

The transitions between sets are also really impressive!

26. Girl Scout 

Ooh, I’m gonna sell some cookies!

Dana Steingold is as cute as a button!

27. It’s ability to take current taboo topics and make light of them 

It’s a dark show. The topics it touches upon are dark so dark comedy is a must!

This dark comedy does touch even boundary and goes straight for those current issues. It’s unapologetic. So many people hide away from that kind of stuff but sometime it is best just to laugh about it and you most certainly will!

28. Tim Burton-vibes all over the place (obviously required!)

Beetlejuice the musical still screams Tim Burton!

The world of Tim Burton has been unleashed on that stage and I am living for it!

29. F*ck Brigadoon

Sometimes you just need one person to say what everyone else is thinking! Ha!

30. Vocals

Oh. My. word.

Listening to them on the cast recording is brilliant but it is a whole new experience being in the room and hearing that cast live!

31. Say goodbye to that 4th wall

I must admit, I normally do not enjoy this. Mainly because when the 4th wall is removed, it is done excessively and very quickly becomes boring. I’m over it. However, the way Beetlejuice does it is perfect in every way!

I can only recall Beetlejuice himself removing the 4th wall…oh, actually there is one other moment which could count but that is numerous character all on stage at once. Having one character remove the 4th wall is great especially when the character is Beetlejuice. It is a really nice touch and highlights the fact that he is not part of that world. He has this ability to see the ‘real’ world on stage but also the audience.

32. That feel good ending! *I could cry*

A feel-good number to end the show is most certainly needed considering the dark topics/humour. I love a show with a finale that elevates you to an all-time high where you could cry with happiness. This show does that for me!

The lyrics really get to me along with the stunning harmonies and structure of the song.

Random fact: My two favourite shows (Beetlejuice and In the Heights) end with the lyrics “I’m home’. I always need a moment after thinking about that. 

33. It’s a complete sucks-YES!!!

 

Have we covered everything?! Let us know why YOU love the show!

 

Amélie (UK tour) – REVIEW

Amélie (UK tour) – REVIEW

New Theatre, Oxford

★★★★★

Amélie

New Theatre, Oxford

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen June 18th, 2019

★★★★★

Amélie, a musical derived from the much loved 2001 film of the same title, presents the story of a young lady who although appears quiet , has an imagination louder than words. Spending her life providing fellow Parisians with happiness through her small acts of kindness, she soon discovers it is time to work on herself and allow her heart to speak when love comes knocking.

The Parisian vibe immediately seeped into my blood, warmed my heart and I fell in love. It provided a sensation I have never experienced…maybe it was the feeling of actually falling in love! My heart skipped a beat numerous times

This show was the full package; whimsical, charming, humorous whilst being filled to the brim with talent and phenomenal stage craft.

I’m not sure where to begin! The set is gorgeous. You see it and immediately you are transported to the hustle and bustle of Paris. This feeling is only amplified when the cast take to the stage.

Although seeming very chaotic to look at with all the additional nick-nacks, the set itself was a simplistic beauty. There were no huge scene changes. Just the movement of some props and dimming of the light. It really didn’t need anything else. It lent itself to provide almost a musical box feel. Seeing the story play out in front of you as if the mechanism was being cranked in the wings. Even the way Amélie was transported around the stage was whimsical!

The tiny Parisian cafe scenes pulled you by the hand down a little alley way into the heart of one of Paris’ up and coming districts. The vivid hum of the busy people outside was only added to with the cast. It was such a stunning choice to have the cast playing their own instruments throughout the show. I obviously had my eyes focused on the stage but I could imagine closing my eyes and being there in the heart of Paris. Buskers surrounding me, playing the beautiful symphony of Paris’ heart beat.

The whole cast were insanely talented (and to me, nailed the French accent) but I do have to draw focus to Audrey Brisson and her breathtaking performance as Amélie. It was such an endearing performance. She played it to the back of the stalls with her facial expressions. Also, such a dreamy voice!

My final fangirl moment for the show was the puppetry. It was seen more in act 1 and it was used for an element I didn’t expect at all. The show is still fairly new in the grand scheme of things. It premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in September 2015. At that stage, and even on broadway, young Amélie was played by a little girl. Since then, it has been switch up slightly in order to replace the child actor with a puppet. It is such a beautiful touch. Another one which works so well for the show! Adding heaps to the storytelling charm and allowing the audience to differentiate between the past and the present.

All in all, Amélie is an outstanding piece of theatre which checks so many boxes. The creative team are doing everything right. On top of all of this mentioned, there is a stunning musical score.

I urge you to see this show as it tours around the UK. You will not be disappointed!

For more information on the show, upcoming venues and tickets, click here.

 

The Swell Mob – REVIEW

The Swell Mob – REVIEW

Colab Factory, London

★★★                         (Concept ★★★★★)

The Swell Mob

Colab Factory, London

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen May 9th, 2019

★★★                         (Concept ★★★★★)

The Swell Mob. Where do I start with The Swell Mob?

Another incredibly promising show which unfortunately fell flat. I suppose it did have an impact on me, I left questioning what I had just experienced and the show has stayed with me. Just not for the right reasons.

I am going to be vague as possible with the plot as describing it will reveal spoilers. With this show it is best not to know what the story is however knowing how to respond is key. I’m pretty sure that won’t make sense but please bear with me!

Situated next to an already well-established immersive theatre experience, The Swell Mob is left in the shadows.

The concept for this show is outstanding. This is partly why it pains me to write this 3 star review. The 3 star review is purely based on what I experienced on the night. If an opportunity came around meaning I could see the show again, I would without hesitation in the hope my current view would be changed.

The Swell Mob is unlike any other immersive theatre I have experienced. Instead of being taken through the story, you have control on how it played out which I loved! It was hands-on, immersive (as you’d hope) and stimulating.

I’m just going to go straight in for it…I didn’t get a full show. An abrupt ending is never good in my opinion. But what is worse is when the audience can’t distinguish the end of the show and are just left there lingering until stage management informs you that it is in fact the end of the show….go home!

The audience for this particular performance we attended never saw the end of the show. The run time is very limited and appeared to require precise audience actions for the story to progress.

From the get-go, it was evident that the audience was very unsure on what was happening. The show came up late (the venue doors didn’t open until after the scheduled start time) which normally isn’t an issue but when you have 75 minutes for the show with the second show so soon after the first ends, it becomes a very risky game. On two show days at The Swell Mob, show 1 goes up at 16:30/19:15 with show 2 staring at 19:15/21:00. On most days its a 30 minute turn around, theres hardly any time factored in for any possible mishaps resulting in the audience missing the scripted finale.

After being let in late, we all hung around in the first room which conveniently had the bar! A tankard of gin for me please! This was our first real encounter with the cast.

It was a very awkward first 10 minutes. 10 minutes of a very limited time when the story could have moved forward. Eventually other audience members started to notice that we had to purchase a ticket in order to move forward. Don’t worry, the ‘currency’ is provided upon arrival!

Finally, scene 2 began! In the depths of the basement (the same basement where I had a drunk night of poker…ha!) the full labyrinth came into view. Once again, everyone was little uncertain as to where they could go and even what they should do. I took it upon myself to start exploring. This then let to the discovery that you can actually touch props, open draws and find hidden clues. Another chunk taken from our limited time.

Without giving too much of the plot away, multiple clues have to be found in order to free the spirits. Its a mixture of riddles and finding items in order to unlock the ending.

The sections of searching were broken up nicely with scenes acted by the cast however it was difficult to know when these were happening and could have easily been missed due to the set up of the building.

Once we got into the flow of things and knew the boundaries, it was great fun interacting with the characters. I managed to get very hands on. You feel like you have really contributed. It was so easy to get sucked into the atmosphere.

The cast were also fabulous to interact with and could be found roaming the entire building.

The main downfall of The Swell Mob was the lack of guidance from the cast/stage management. The concept was wonderful and I adore the (almost) escape room-vibe. It just took far too long for people to understand what was going on and as a result we never received the full story that night. It would have been amazing if the cast moved the story along if they saw the audience struggling to do this themselves. It would avoid the disheartened feeling of ‘was that it?’ as we left.

I really wanted to rate this higher but the incredible cast and mind-blowing sets just weren’t enough to offset the incomplete story/experience. I’m not saying this happens every night. It could have been an off night.

The Swell Mob is at the Colab Factory until July 28th (only open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). More information can be found here.

If you have been, we want to know your thoughts with this one. Did you get the full story?! Let us know!