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.

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.

 

Amour – REVIEW

Amour – REVIEW

Charing Cross Theatre, London

★★★

Amour

Charing Cross Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen May 8th, 2019

★★★

Did I ‘amour’ this show?

Amour I did not but that’s not to say I hated it. In fact, I’m on the fence about it, or should I say, in the wall. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!

‘Amour’ takes place in the 1950s in Paris. I mean, with that title, it couldn’t really take place anywhere else?

The story focuses on Dusoleil (Gary Tushaw) who appears very comfortable in life. Comfortable. Nothing out of the ordinary. Working as a civil servant, passing the time writing letters to his mother when his mind isn’t wandering and daydreaming about Isabelle (Anna O’Byrne). All of this changes one night when he discovers he possesses the ability to walk through walls. This new ability provides him with the courage of not only helping the less fortunate but to win the heart and save Isabelle from her controlling marriage.

There was something about this show which had me feeling pretty, ‘meh’. Although reflecting on each individual component, I’m struggling to but my finger on what this show was lacking.

Individually, the artist direction for many features was beautiful and whimsical however collectively, the spark didn’t ignite.

The traverse stage set up was a unique decision (although this was probably swayed by the previous show that played at Charing Cross Theatre). I personally don’t think it lent itself well to the story. It definitely restricted what we saw on stage. If the stage/venue had been bigger, I think the traverse stage would have been wonderful. Direction-wise, it was clear that time and thought had been put into the actor’s movement. Each side of the audience was catered for and at no point did I feel like I was watching the show from backstage.

The cast were incredible! Vocally outstanding and it was a joy to listen to all of those harmonise! It was beautiful when the score built and each character was singing there own verses over each other.

I have to say I was very surprised that it wasn’t Jonathan Lipman doing the costume design for this show. The costumes were very similar to his style. It looked like the costumes were pulled from previous shows at Charing Cross Theatre where Lipman had overseen the costumes. I understand why the Monochrome theme was selected, to be in keeping with the Parisian love story. I just really wish a different spin had been put on it. It was disappointing as its been seen in so many other shows.

Lyrically the show was very cleaver. It was sung from start to finish so it is important you pay attention. Occasionally I found it really difficult to follow as the lyrics are sung very quickly. A lot of the jokes come at those points and I found myself sat there in a sea of chuckles having completely missed the joke myself. There was the occasional play on words which made them sound rude until the whole thing came out. I really appreciated that especially with one of the riskier words!

-Now this is something I don’t normally say-

If the opportunity comes around and I get to see the show again before it closes, I definitely will. I didn’t hate it but at the same time, going in ‘blind’ and not knowing anything about the show hindered my experience. I do think a second watch will highlight a lot of things I initially missed and bring a new appreciation to the show. 

All in all, it was a very charming piece and lives up to the main promo quote provided by NY Times, ‘a bedtime story for grown ups’. Nothing too over stimulating although enjoyable at the same time.

‘Amour’ is playing at Charing Cross Theatre until July 20th, 2019.

More information on the show and tickets can be found here.

SIX – REVIEW

SIX – REVIEW

Arts Theatre, London

♚♚♚♚♚♚ (<- yes, stars won't do it. Bring out the royal attire!)

SIX

Arts Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Katie Middlebrook

Seen March 10th, 2019

♚♚♚♚♚♚ (<- yes, stars won’t do it. Bring out the royal attire!)

 

“Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” 

SIX The Musical is a brand-new musical phenomenon that everyone is losing their heads over and the soundtrack is storming up the UK pop charts. 

SIX was originally performed by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society directed by Jamie Armitage before first playing in The Arts Theatre in December 2017. 

The story of SIX allows each of Henry VIII’s wives to tell their story individually of what they went through during their time as his wife. 

The show starts with the opening song ‘Ex-Wives’ and from the get-go the energy on stage is very apparent. The girl’s costumes have an aspect of old fashion to them but at the same time are very modernised. Each girl has an individual style which fits their character. A part of the costume I really liked is the little microphone holders where during dance numbers, the girls can still carry their microphones but without having to hold them. 

In-between each song the characters tell you are little bit about their story and set up the song before it starts. During these times you can really see the chemistry and friendship between the six girls not only as their characters on stage but also off. The banter they have on stage with each other and the way they deliver the lines had me sitting on the edge of my seat and smiling from ear to ear. 

The first of the wives to tell their story is Catherine of Aragon who was played by Jarneia Richard-Noel. The energy of the girls carries on into this song was a real joy to watch with some fun dance breaks between verses and sassy comments put in throughout the song. The interaction and involvement with getting the audience to clap and dance along with them was great. With the amount energy put into the song the audience are quick and eager to join in. 

The next song is ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ which is Anne Boleyn’s story performed by Millie O’Connell. This is one of my favourite songs on the soundtrack, so I was very excited to see this song performed on stage and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Millie’s sassy and engaging performance had me mesmerised from the start and was one of the stand out performances of the show. 

Next up is Jane Seymour’s ‘Heart of Stone’ so wonderfully performed by Natalie Paris. This is also another one of my favourite songs from the album and did not disappoint. Natalie’s outstanding voice and performance had me tearing up and giving me goose bumps with the emotion she put into her performance. 

The fifth song on the soundtrack is ‘Haus Of Holbein’ which is one of the comedy songs. The outfits, lighting and dancing in this song are all very cleverly thought out with parts of them glowing in the dark. This part of the show is set in Germany and I love how the girls all talk and sing in German accents to fit in with this theme. The lyrics, outfits, dancing and accents were hilarious and had me laughing, making this one of my favourite dance numbers in the show. 

Alexia McIntosh plays Anna of Cleves and definitely got down during her solo, ‘Get Down’. The lyrics in this song are hilarious and Alexia performs them so easily leaving the audience hanging on to her every word. 

‘All You Wanna Do’ by Katherine Howard is another one of my favourite songs (are you seeing the pattern here?! Ha!) This is performed by Aimie Atkinson. There is a certain serious side to this song with some of the lyrics being very powerful and this was shown through the choreography throughout the song. ‘All You Wanna Do’ is one of the harder songs to sing in my opinion and Aimie sings it with so much ease and sounded phenomenal. 

Last but not least, Catherine Parr tells her story with her song ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’. Courtney Stapleton, the alternate Catherine Parr, was the one to perform this song. Her voice and outstanding delivery of a meaningful song were fantastic. 

The finale ‘Six’ is where you really see what the show is about. Girl power. The all-female band all get a chance to showcase their amazing talent along with each girl getting a chance to show their outstanding vocals. 

SIX The Musical recently got nominated for five Olivier awards and after seeing this show I can see why. The talent on stage is absolutely breath-taking and I wish them all the luck in the world. I will be raving about it for years to come. 

The live pop-concert musical returned to the Arts Theatre, London in January 2019 after playing in venues around the UK such as Cambridge, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

SIX The Musical, “Divorced. Beheaded. LIVE in concert!” is at the Arts Theatre until January 2020 so grab the hottest ticket in town while you still can!

More information about the show and tickets can be found here.

 

Thriller LIVE – 10th Anniversary Performance – REVIEW

Thriller LIVE – 10th Anniversary Performance

Lyric Theatre, London

★★★★

Thriller LIVE – 10th Anniversary Performance

Lyric Theatre, London

.

Reviewed by Katie Middlebrook

Seen January 22nd, 2019

★★★★

On Tuesday 22nd January 2019, Thriller – Live celebrated a spectacular 10-year anniversary of the show being on the West End and Ginger in The Theatre was lucky enough to be invited to this fun filled event.

Thriller – Live is a two-and-a-half-hour concert show celebrating the music of The Jackson 5 and the solo work of Michael Jackson. The show had already been performed in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia before the Lyric Theatre opened its doors in London for the first time on 21st January 2009.

Adrian Grant is the writer and theatrical producer of Thriller – Live. He started a British fan club for Michael Jackson in 1988. Adrian worked closely alongside Michael during the time the ‘Dangerous’ album was being recorded. In 2006 Adrian developed the tribute show and it had its first preview at the Dominion Theatre in August that year. Later that year Adrian teamed Chris Brown up with the dancers of Thriller – Live to perform the show in front of Michael Jackson. The following year Thriller – Live became a touring show with raving success and reviews across the UK and Europe before opening at the Lyric Theatre in January 2009.

This was my first time seeing the show and I had such a fun evening. The performers interactions with the audience was amazing. They easily got everyone to dance and sing along and if you are on the front row you might be lucky enough to get a high five from a cast member or two!

There are four main singers in the show who are all very talented. I really enjoyed hearing their harmonies and renditions of popular Michael Jackson songs. One of my favourites was ‘She’s Out of My Life’ which was performed by David Julian who stood out throughout the show as a very gifted performer.

Florivaldo Mossi was a very convincing Michael with his looks and naturally flowing dance moves. I was a little confused for some of the numbers as it looked like he was lip syncing but, in the finale he could very clearly sing.

The show has a lot of content with lots of well-known Michael Jackson songs as well as Jackson 5 songs, but the show didn’t seem to be in any order or have a particular structure which sometimes was a little bit confusing. I found myself knowing and enjoying a lot more of the songs in Act Two, some of my favourites being ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Man in the Mirror’, ‘Earth Song’ and of course ‘Thriller’.

There was obviously a lot of hard work put into the costumes and creative side of the show with the set design and lighting. It was all very colourful and bright and kept the show very exciting throughout the whole thing. Along with the audience interaction it was a very entertaining and enjoyable show.

If you are a fan of Michael Jackson and his music and want a fun filled evening of dancing and singing, then Thriller – Live is the place to go. It continues to play at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue Tuesday to Sunday every week with matinees on Saturday and Sundays.

More information and tickets can be found here.

Brass – REVIEW

Brass – REVIEW

Union Theatre, London 

★★★★

“Brass is a fine and respectful commemoration in this year of the Armistice centenary.”

Brass

Union Theatre, London

 

Seen November 7th, 2018

Reviewed by Mark Sykes

★★★★

2018 marks the Armistice centenary, so it is fitting that the musical Brass is being performed at the Union Theatre in recognition of the commemorations marking the end of World War One.

Originally commissioned by the National Youth Music Theatre in 2014 and written by Benjamin Till (with additional lyrics by Nathan Taylor and Sir Arnold Wesker), it tells the story of an amateur brass band from Leeds who enlist to the Army and go to the front line in France to help their fellow countrymen in battle. But the story that is told is also as much about the women who are left behind, and their worries about loved ones and whether they’ll ever return.

Act one starts as the ‘band of brothers’ demonstrate their adept skills playing their brass instruments and it also sets the scene of their relationships with the ladies working in the local factory, the ‘Barnbow Lassies’. The lads are a cheerful bunch and their decision to enlist, whilst being a worthy one, is perhaps made without fully realising the full consequences of what they are letting themselves in for.

One of their brethren, Morrie (played by Lawrence Smith) is not yet old enough to enlist, but this doesn’t deter him from wanting to join his colleagues in battle. This decision will eventually have a huge impact upon them all, but it is the first loss of one of their own, Harry, that brings into sharp focus for the rest of the band the full horrors of war.

Brass, running at 2 hours 55 minutes (including interval), could easily have been nearly three hours of a desperately dark tone and you couldn’t have argued, given the topic, if that had been the case. But to give Benjamin Till (and his co-creators) credit, he has managed to integrate some good humour and light amongst all the darkness of war. One of my favourite lines of the evening was “Can I share your blanket tonight?”. It was done with deft humour but at the same time, highlighted the limited comforts that the guys had on the battlefield.

Titty’s poems (the wonderful Samantha Richards) was another case of being able to lighten the mood as the ladies dealt with being stuck in a factory and feeling pretty helpless for the lads at war in France, their main contribution being writing letters to those on the front line alongside, of course, creating the munitions for their war heroes. Tamsin Dowsett is one of many highlights within a magnificent ensemble cast and is almost matronly-like in her role of factory manager Miss Grimsby, a character who relishes keeping her ladies in check!

Act two features the ladies deciding to form their own brass band, notwithstanding their lack of playing experience! Again, this is another aspect that brings some comedic balance to the solemn proceedings happening elsewhere.

Morrie being underage eventually has devastating repercussions. His questioning by a commanding officer is one of the highlights of the evening, and Lawrence Smith shows incredible emotions as he struggles to deal with how to handle the situation under much duress.

Two of the prime characters in Brass are Eliza (Emma Harrold) and Wilfred (Maison Kelley), and one of the most heart-warming moments in the show is when they meet for the first time when Wilfred returns home on leave. Harrold is enthralling, she is captivating throughout and her performance of Could Have Been was stirring and heartfelt.

Brass draws to a close when the men begin their assault on the enemy’s front positions, or to put it more accurately they begin their suicide mission. To the echoes of their battle cry, “We do this together”, the results are stark in their brutality. The band of brothers fought as one, and they fell as one.

There are some wonderful songs in Brass, including Keighley, Billy Whistle, the eponymously-titled Brass and Scared, which deals well in capturing issues with love both on the front-line as well as back home in Leeds. The size and scale of the Union Theatre stage can pose some issues with choreography, but Sasha Regan and her team have done a great job here. I also noticed during You’ll Always Have A Friend there was perhaps a doffing of the cap to Bob Fosse’s choreography of Chicago – whether that was the case or not, nice moves!

Brass tells a fascinating story of a bunch of amateurs deciding to become soldiers in an effort to help their country. Overall it strikes a fine balance between the brutality and horror of war, whilst trying to shine a light on the positive traits of those in battle and those left behind in Leeds. It also factors in some of the other issues that prevailed at the time, including homosexuality and societal hierarchies (not that, to some extent, they don’t remain an issue today).

An excellent ensemble cast does a tremendous job of portraying Benjamin Till’s story, with not a weak link amongst them. With expert direction and staging by Sasha Regan, Henry Brennan as Musical Director, and together with the rest of the creatives involved, Brass is a fine and respectful commemoration in this year of the Armistice centenary.

Brass is playing at the Union Theatre until November 24th. Tickets ad more information can be found at http://uniontheatre.biz/brass.html

Fame (UK tour) – REVIEW

Fame (UK tour) – REVIEW

New Theatre, Cardiff

★★★★

Fame

New Theatre, Cardiff

 

Seen September 29th, 2018

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★

To start off, I actually really enjoyed this show! This type of show isn’t normally my favourite however it managed to win me over!

We all know the 1980s film, Fame. It’s a classic. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been?! Fame follows the development of students enrolled on a four-year programme at The High School Of Performing Arts in New York City. The highs and incredible lows of the performing industry and the agony which is trying to crack it. The show itself pretty much covers every topic imaginable: young love, self-discovery, ambitions, drugs and acceptance.

The overall performance was great! It was well put together and clean-cut, this is something which has to happen in a show heavily based around dance. The choreography was classic but sharp. Nick Winston did a fab job! It always make me beam when the choreography is neat. Everyone was on time and giving 100%. I have seen too many dance shows recently where this was not the case. Super job!

We need a real moment of appreciation for the set, please. It was very simple but did everything it needed to do whilst giving the personal touch. Not just the generic, run of the mill for Fame. Specifically crafted for this cast. The year book photos were brilliant. All in-keeping with the 80s (I wouldn’t expect anything else!). Although there were a couple of point during the show were I found myself attempting to figure out who was who, especially as I couldn’t read the names under each photo. They were great to look at during the interval.

The cast was great, top marks across the board. Singing and dancing is never easy but they were able to make it look like a walk in the park! I am going to have to give a shout out to Stephanie Rojas (Carmen) who, vocally, killed it! There were several places where she stole the show but very graciously gave it back to the others to shine as a whole.

I would say this is a feel good show, I mean, it is although it does take a dark turn. Only briefly. A beautiful way to depict the fall in that industry. You want to start the game fast, you’ll burn much faster. The music definitely gives it this feel good vibe and will leave you humming the iconic ‘Fame!’ as you leave.

Fame is still traveling the UK before taking up residence in London’s Peacock Theatre for a short run lasting a little over a month next September.

For more information of the remaining tour venues and tickets, head to http://fameuktour.co.uk/tour-dates