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.

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.

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! 

 

West End Eurovision 2019 – Review

West End Eurovision 2019 – Review

Adelphi Theatre, London

★★★★★

West End Eurovision 2019

Adelphi Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen April 28th, 2019

★★★★★

 

— Straight away, my apologies this is such a long one. I wanted to capture the night in as much detail as possible to show people what they are missing out on and why they really need to consider attending awesome events like this! No pressure, ha! I will provide my summary in bold at the bottom for those in a rush! 

What a night! 

So camp.

Piled high with all the cheese.

Delivers and embodies everything Eurovision is and then some! 

This year we were able to attend West End Eurovision. Creator and writer Jade is the first person to dive out of the room when anybody utters the E-word. That and the P-word (panto) are the deal breakers. 

-BUT-

West End Eurovision may have converted me. Not enough to watch the Eurovision on TV but to return to the annual West End event. I’d be Mad not to! (<— did you see what I did there? If not, you soon will). 

Each year West End Eurovision takes up residence in one of the sparkly west end venues. This year happened to be the Adelphi Theatre (currently home to Waitress) and was celebrating its 9th return. 

In the west end, we all love a good charity event. It was evident to see at this event. The purpose of West End Eurovision is to raise money and awareness for HIV & AIDS. Back in 2008, The Make a Difference Trust – Theatre MAD was created in order to fundraise for HIV and AIDS in the theatre community. There are numerous charity events they host throughout the year with different themes and performers but I can honestly say, they are incredible to attend. I have been to a few and I’ve had a blast. 

The theory behind MAD Trust is having the theatre community come together and make a difference as a team, showcasing their skills and talents to help those living with/impacted by HIV and AIDS. 

To the event…

West End Eurovision pretty much says what it is on the tin. The same principles of the normal Eurovision, the only difference, instead of countries joining together, it is west end shows. This year, 7 west end shows came together for one night and one night only to fight it out to see who could claim the prestigious title of, “West End Eurovision Winner 2019!”. Gracing the stage were the casts of ‘Only folks and Horses’, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Follies’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Wicked’.

Last year’s winner was The Phantom of the Opera and trust me, everyone was gunning for that title this year. 

The claws where out and no wow factor was left unturned. We had pyrotechnics, light shows, insane choreography, a human Ken doll and quick changes! 

For the night we had the delightful Richard Gauntlett hosting, ensuring the laughs kept coming and the show kept moving.

First up we saw the cast of ‘Only Fools and Horse’ performing “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. The energy was fab and a great start to the show. It set the bar high for the other contestants. They were cleverly able to incorporate their show into the song! 

Second to perform was ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’ with their version of “Toy”. Now, this song secured Israel’s win in the 2018 Eurovision and it was looking to have the same fate with Jamie. The costumes where in keeping, with each ensemble labelled as a different toy brand. The three lead vocals smashed it and well…the human Ken doll at the end was an added bonus. Layton Williams demanded everybody’s full attention; aerial, pirouetting and splitting all over the stage. They know how to please an audience! Things were looking great for ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ as the audience found themselves asking, “what could top that?!”

Third to perform was the cast of ‘Aladdin’ with “Monsters”. Yet again, another strong contender. With brilliant choreography the fluorescent green was really mesmerising to watch as the lights dimmed. 

Closing act one, ‘Mamma Mia!’ took to the stage and performed their choice song, “Je Ne Sais Quoi”. Something new was brought to the stage that we hadn’t seen prior to this performance…comedy. Initially I think the majority of the audience was distressed when it appeared a cast member was almost dropped and then hobbled off stage only to return with a cast on her leg. By this time enough had ‘gone wrong’ for the audience to relax back into the night and laugh along. 

‘Follies’ had the honour of opening up act 2. We saw a much slower pace is comparison to act 1 however this pace change did not impact the entertainment! With “L’oiseau et L’enfant” the smallest cast of the night had the audience in the palm of their hand. You could have heard a pin drop during that performance. For the first time that night, the whole audience erupted! This had just become the lead contestant! 

And just when you thought the talent couldn’t get any better. No seriously, I thought it had peaked, the cast of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ had the entire building lose their chill! Oh my word, there have only been a handful of moments where I had full-body chills during a performance and this made the list. Their performance of “Grande Amore” caused me to forget how to breathe! Firstly those vocals were to die for. Obviously we knew there would be perfect harmonies. Secondly, we witnessed wow factor after wow factor! The energy of the performance gripping to and working in perfect unison with the music. Each heightened moment visually replicated on stage. The moment the performance finished the audience blew the remainder of the roof off the Adelphi! It is safe to say that ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was back to reclaim the title of West End Eurovision winner 2019.

That Phantom runs an incredibly tight ship. WHERE CAN I JOIN PHANTOM BOOTCAMP?!?!

The final show to take to the stage was ‘Wicked’ with “Wild Dances“. I hate to say this but they were very unfortunate in this line-up. I mean, how on earth could you top The Phantom of the Opera’s performance? The talent was there but just fell a little short.

Having never been to a West End Eurovision I was unsure on how the voting would play out. To my surprise it was much more technically advanced than I was expecting! We had the four main judges; Amber Davis (winner of Love Island 2017), Bonnie Langford (currently staring in 9 to 5), Wayne Sleep OBE (Cats, Song and Dance) and Tim Vincent (TV personality). The four judges were providing comments after each performance. There were several categories the shows could win but I know that you are all interested in the overall winner. This was determined by a combination of votes from the judges and the audience. In the room, we had a certain amount of time where we could text a main number to cast a vote. The votes cost £1 a go but all the money went to MAD Trust.

During this time were were entertained further by some incredible special guests. These included Michael Rice (winner of the BBC’s All Together Now in 2018) and Dana International (winner of Eurovision in 1998). Michael Rice’s voice was fabulous. He is one to watch out for!

Now it was the moment we had all been waiting for. The auditorium held there breath as the suspense ate us alive. When people say the shows get competitive, you had best believe them!

The final result was:

1. The Phantom of the Opera – 88 votes (Congratulations on that well deserved win!)
2. Follies – 80 votes
3. Wicked – 62 votes
4. Aladdin – 52 votes
5. Mamma Mia! – 42 votes
6. Everyone’s Talking About Jamie- 40 votes
7. Only Fools and Horses- 16 votes

k0mHW-8n
West End Eurovision 2019 winners, The Phantom of the Opera with “Grande Amore”. Photo credit: Gaz Sherwood PBGstudios.com

All in all, I had a bloody amazing night! Everyone involved with performing and putting on the show is there on their own time. Not a single person is paid but that doesn’t impact the quality you receive. I’ll be going again, for sure. Not only are you getting a fabulous night of pure talent and laughter but you are also helping out a well deserving charity! 

I have also linked the MAD Trust’s website. I strongly encourage you to have a look.

If you’ve made it through to the end, thank you!

Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran – REVIEW

Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran – REVIEW

Omnibus Theatre, London

★★★★

Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran

Omnibus Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen March 10th, 2019

★★★★

 

I can review it this time round! In March 2018, I was invited to see a script-in-hand performance of ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran. It was in its very early stages but even at that point it was well established. A year later, we got to see the development.

To give you an overview, ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran‘ tells Orla’s (Siobhan O’Kelly) story. A heartbreakingly beautiful account of her 6 week trip to Iran in 2010 told upon a Soho club stage in the present day. A story of a completely different country with completely different laws and, more importantly, a completely different view on women. Where control on its people, cultural practices and the arts is valued above anything else.

The show is set up with a dual aspect; two stories intertwining with each other. One part consists of the scenes that played out on Orla’s trip to Iran. The second part taking place on a Soho club’s opening night. Although I really enjoyed this dual story aspect, I couldn’t help but feel it was very confusing at some points. The whole staging of the show has undergone major development however the subtle light changes didn’t send a strong enough signal of a scene change to the audience. There are parts of the script that change very suddenly and myself, as an audience member, started focusing on where we were instead of the powerful words being said.

The script itself was a little slow and took its time to build momentum. You really need to hang in there because the message it conveys is so powerful. Some of the monologues really put the brutal truth into perspective. Highlighting the awful things that still occur in this world but also still provide that glimmer of hope.

I applaud Sam Wilde and Elizabeth Harper for the set design. Simple yet in keeping with the story. Something I loved about the script-in-hand performance was the intimacy. I mentioned that it was like being told the story in someones living room. This time it was the complete opposite. But it kinda worked. The cabaret club set still felt intimate but gave the impression of a grander establishment. It did detract from the intimacy however it gave the performance more authenticity.

Dotted throughout the show are some small cabaret numbers performed by Mark (Nathan Kelly). It is only fitting to have a few cabaret numbers in a Soho drag cabaret club! It’s what you’d expect although they were so cleverly worked into the story. A seamless transition from London to Iran and vice versa bringing a constant reminder of the art that would face corporal punishment in one of those countries.

Reading back over my post from a year ago, I still hold all those views.

Something is telling me this show will go far. It’s still got some work however the foundations are there and I am all for supporting this!

The show is a political statement and it hits some tender nerves.

Definitely worth seeing and having on your radar.

‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran’ is at the Omnibus Theatre until March 24th 2019. Tickets and more information on the show 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.

 

Lorna Dallas: Stages – REVIEW

Lorna Dallas: Stages

The Crazy Coqs, Live at Zédel, London

★★★★

Lorna Dallas: Stages

The Crazy Coqs, Live at Zédel, London

Reviewed by Mark Sykes

Seen March 6th, 2019

★★★★

Lorna Dallas has had an illustrious career spanning many decades, but has only recently returned to the stage after a 20-year hiatus. From Broadway to the West End (and many locations in between); from Show Boat to Hello Dolly! (and countless others), Lorna Dallas has ‘been there, done that’  – and then some! The journey from being a small town girl in Illinois, to a world-renowned stage performer is what provides the setting in Lorna’s latest one-woman show called Stages.

The show sees Lorna on stage alongside her Musical Director on piano, Chris Denny. Stages begins its journey in Lorna’s childhood years in Illinois and her parent’s initial disapproval of her having any thoughts of a singing career. Her opening number of “There’s No Business Like Show Business / A Glamourous Night” instantly proved that age hasn’t dampened those soaring soprano vocals and Lorna immediately had the audience (sprinkled with some familiar showbiz faces) enthralled.

The show, directed by Barry Kleinbort, was littered with songs written by some of the most famous names in music, such as Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill, Kander & Ebb, etc. What stood out for me though was many of the songs were not the usual fare that you would usually hear in this type of show. Each song had been perfectly curated to fit Lorna’s life story, both on-stage and off, with each having a specific personal meaning to her. 

The singing career of Lorna Dallas really began when she won a singing contest whilst still in high school. With 20,000 contestants participating, that first showed the pedigree that she had and which would provide the initial foundation for the lengthy career that was to follow. 

Songs such as “Blues In The Night” (by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer) and Cole Porter’s “Never Give Anything Away” (with additional lyrics by show director Barry Kleinbort) continued Lorna’s journey. Songs were interjected by fascinating stories and anecdotes, many amusing but with some striking a more personal note. “Poor Little Hollywood Star / At The Crossroads” was another song for Lorna to display her vocal skills, and it was here that she impressively proved that she could still hold a note.

There is certainly an eclectic mix of song choices in Stages, but it was obvious that much thought had gone into their selection. I suppose none more so that Jerome Kern and P.G. Wodehouse’s song “London, Dear Old London” from their 1922 musical comedy The Cabaret Girl. This fitted well with Lorna’s 2-year stint in Show Boat starring alongside Cleo Laine, and a time that she fell in love with this great city.

The highlight of the evening for me had to be Lorna’s performance of Larry Grossman & Hal Hackaday’s “Empty”. It was a stunning rendition of such a beautiful song; unbelievably, the song was cut prior to the opening of the 1970 Broadway show Minnie’s Boys. Lorna also sang one of my personal favourites, “Teach Me Tonight”, written by Gene de Paul and Sammy Cahn. Whilst the song was written in 1953 (well before I was born!), Lorna’s interpretation still feels fresh – and it also provided the opportunity to shine the light on Chris Denny’s keyboard skills with a lovely solo spot. 

The raw emotions of the evening came to the fore with Ivor Novello & Christopher Hassall’s “My Dearest Dear”. The song has a deep personal meaning for Lorna and it left a deep imprint on the hearts of the audience as well. It was a special moment of the evening.

The evening ended with Anthony Newley & Herbert Kkretzmer’s “If All The World’s A Stage”. It was a perfect way to round off a wonderful journey through time. From a small town in Illinois, to shows such as The King And I and even a Royal Variety Performance in front of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Lorna Dallas has come a long way. For me it was as much about the personal tales used to segue the song choices as it was the actual songs being performed; but putting them together lead to perfect combination of music and chat.

The fact that Lorna can continue to deliver shows like Stages to sell out audiences, and importantly provide a fresh interpretation on songs that go back to the early decades of the 20th century, is proof of her pedigree and staying power – the likes of which is such a rare commodity in the 21st century.

The Grand Expedition – REVIEW

The Grand Expedition

Top secret location!!!!

★★★★★ and all the stars between here and the moon!

The Grand Expedition

Top secret London location!!!!

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Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen February 26th, 2019

★★★★★ and all the stars between here and the moon!

I can’t rave about this enough! The two and a half/three hours spent with GingerLine were a dream. For those who love both theatre and food, your time has come. There is a place where the two worlds intertwine!

GingerLine has a reputation for creating journeys for their audience members that not only teleport them to another world but also sets their taste buds alight. With past adventures including Juniper Manor, The Faculty of Eatucation, and Chambers of Flavour (V 1, 2 & 3) where tickets sold out in a blink of an eye. It is safe to say that this one appears to be following suit.

This was my first GingerLine experience and, in all honesty, I had no idea what to expect. After all, it isn’t every day one gets to indulge in an immersive dining experience. 

For those not familiar with immersive dining, you still get the theatrical story however the food is part of this story. They compliment each other perfectly; enriching all your senses. This type of immersive theatre has really taken off over the past few years with GingerLine paving the way.

Now, the event itself…

Just like any grand expedition, the destination is always in mind but never visible until the final stretch. In this case, 4pm on the day! The location is finally revealed but contrary to popular belief, it is not on the ginger line this time.

We stepped into the clouds and were sworn to secrecy. You really need the element of surprise to add to the wow factor! I can’t be giving away all their secrets! That being said, we have been granted special permission to share some production shots in order to give you a tiny glimpse into this “floating, feeding, falling dream”.

Throughout the night the action is delivered straight to the table. No need to move and trust me, with the amount of delicious food served, you did not want to move!

Majestic poetry carries you through a world where whimsical choreography, larger than life characters, hand-drawn animations, exquisite set design and explosions of flavour flow seamlessly together.

The night was meticulously planned so nothing felt rushed. There was always something to entertain and for those with wondering eyes, like myself, an endless amount of detail to discover.

I had opted for the vegetarian menu to sample for our vegetarian audience and was delighted with the way these dietary requirements were handled. Everyone was catered for all at the same time. And the presentation of the dishes remained the same. I also have to add, the vegetarian menu was delicious!

After floating, being fed and then gently falling back down to earth, it was time to finish our grand expedition. My taste buds have sampled exotic cuisine and everything just tastes bland now!

We’ll have to go on another grand expedition.

Seriously, you need to experience this. Initially, I thought it was a bit pricey but now I have experienced everything you receive and with it all to a very high standard, it is worth every penny!

Tickets and more information can be found here.

There are new worlds waiting for you!


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.

An Enemy of the People – REVIEW

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre, London

★★★

“In a way, it did reflect the current government state perfectly; it seemed so promising yet failed to deliver.”

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre, London

.

Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen January 16th, 2019

★★★

The Union Theatre has opened their doors up once again to a fabulous series bringing focus on past great writers and their work in relation to today’s issues. The Phil Willmott Company have returned to The Union Theatre for their fourth season of “Essential Classics”. Between the months of January and March 2019, three shows are being presented in such a way that pulls the classic writing into the 21st century. On display is Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrick Ibsen’sAn Enemy of the People’, Offenbach’sCan-Can!’ and William Shakespeare’s classic, ‘Othello’. 

To start the season off, we got to see ‘An Enemy of the People’ which sees the struggle of a small town scientist as he battles the mayor and local community after making a shocking discovery which could significantly impact the future of the town’s current project. It soon becomes clear that despite the town’s people believing the harsh truth of their actions, the ability to stand against the political body of the town is non-existent. Despite Ibsen writing this piece back in 1882, the context remains relatable in today’s political climate, especially in the US with Trumps’ regime. Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrick’s original work was brilliant and also hit the audience hard with the realisation that regardless of the century, the same issues prevail. 

An Enemy of the People definitely delivered the message intended however the lack of professionalism really detracted from the experience. This low budget performance definitely had an impact on how a great play was received by the audience. It was clear it had so much potential. In a way, it did reflect the current government state perfectly; it seemed so promising yet failed to deliver. 

The play definitely got better with time. It gradually built up momentum. This was helped by the passion delivered by David Mildon (Dr. Thomas Stockman) which was compelling to watch. This then reached the pinnacle towards the end of act two where the level of emotion displayed by Mildon was through the roof. I applaud him for the stunning performance. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the show was rather bland. The full package was not there for me. This ranged from the lack of American accents (it appeared that this element was optional for the cast) to the mediocre set design. This really hindered the flow of the play. It was very difficult to distinguish changes in scenes which ultimately slowed the show down. The only way you could identify the scene changes were through the over exaggerated blackouts. It would have been great to see the scenes changes tackled in a different way instead of the simplest solution being selected. 

A lot of thought had been put into setting the scene and this typically came in the form of background noise. It was a very simple addition; birds chirping for when the scenes took place outside and cheering during the debate. It was a nice touch although there were some parts where the background noise was too loud and made it difficult to focus on the scene being played out infront of us. 

The Union theatre is a wonderfully intimate venue where this show could have been right at home however the space was not fully utilised and ended up coming across as very low budget. Overall it was enjoyable but very evident that there was so much more the show could have given to the audience. 

An Enemy of the People is playing at The Union Theatre until 2nd February 2019. For more information and tickets, head to  http://www.uniontheatre.biz/an-enemy-of-the-people.html

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