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.

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!

73rd Annual Tony Award Nominations

Tuesday 30th April 2019

I have always kept an eye on the Tony Awards however this year I will be following the process from start to finish and providing my thoughts. This is helped by the fact that I was able to do my first trip to Broadway back in October 2018! I can actually witness the talent in person!

If you keep tabs on the theatre world then you know the 73rd Annual Tony Award nominations have just been released…literally this morning!

Here are Ginger in the Theatre, we have some blogs planned based around the Tony Awards this year.

The first is coming at you!

A round up of the nominations for the 73rd annual Tony Awards.

 

Best Play 

Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney

The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth 

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus by Taylor Mac

Ink by James Graham 

What the constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck

———————————-

Best Musical

Ain’t too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

Beetlejuice

Hadestown

The Prom

Tootsie

———————————-

Best Book of a Musical 

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

Beetlejuice

Hadestown

The Prom

Tootsie

———————————-

Best Original Score (Music and/or lyrics) written for the theatre 

Be More Chill Music & Lyrics by Joe Iconis

Beetlejuice Music & Lyrics by Eddie Perfect 

Hadestown Music & Lyrics by Anaïs Mitchell 

The Prom Lyrics by Chad Beguelin 

To Kill a Mockingbird Music by Adam Guettel 

Tootsie Music & Lyrics by David Yazbek 

———————————-

Best Revival of a Play 

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

The Boys in the Band

Burn This

Torch Song

The Waverly Gallery

———————————-

Best Revival of a Musical 

Kiss Me, Kate

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play 

Paddy Considine for The Ferryman 

Bryan Cranston for Network 

Jeff Daniels for To Kill a Mockingbird 

Adam Driver for Burn This 

Jeremy Pope for choir Boy 

———————————-

Best Performance for an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play 

Annette Bening for Arthur Miller’s All My Sons 

Laura Donnelly for The Ferryman 

Elaine May for The Waverly Gallery 

Janet McTeer for Bernhardt/Hamlet 

Laurie Metcalf for Hillary and Clinton 

Heidi Schreck for What the Constitution Means to Me 

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical 

Brooks Ashmanskas for The Prom 

Derrick Baskin for ain’t Too Proud – the Life and Times of the Temptations 

Alex Brightman for Beetlejuice 

Damon Daunno for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

Santino Fontana for Tootsie

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical 

Stephanie J. Block for The Cher Show 

Caitlin Kinnunen for The Prom 

Beth Leaval for The Prom 

Eva Noblezada for Hadestown 

Kelli O’Hara for Kiss Me, Kate

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured role in a Play 

Bertie Carvel for Ink 

Robin De Jesús for The Boys in the Band 

Gideon Glick for To Kill a Mockingbird

Brandon Uranowitz for Burn this 

Benjamin Walker for Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play 

Fionnula Flanagan for The Ferryman 

Celia Keenan-Bolger for To Kill a Mockingbird 

Kristine Nielsen for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Julie White for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Ruth Wilson for King Lear

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical 

Andre De Shields for Hadestown 

Andy Grotelueshen for Tootsie 

Partick Page for Hadestown 

Jeremy Pope for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations 

Ephraim Sykes for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations 

———————————-

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical 

Lilli Cooper for Tootsie

Amber Gray for Hadestown 

Sarah Stiles for Tootsie

Ali Stroker for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

Mary Testa for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

———————————-

Best Scene Design of a Play 

Miriam Buether for To Kill a Mockingbird 

Bunny Christie for Ink 

Rob Howell for The Ferryman 

Santo Loquasto for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Jan Versweyveld for Network 

———————————-

Best Scene Design of a Musical 

Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations 

Peter England for King Kong 

Rachel Hauck for Hadestown 

Laura Jellinek for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

David Korins for Beetlejuice 

———————————-

Best Costume Design of a Play 

Rob Howell for The Ferryman

Toni-Leslie James for Bernhardt/Hamlet 

Clint Ramos for Torch Song 

Ann roth for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Ann Roth for To Kill a Mockingbird 

———————————-

Best Costume Design of a Musical 

Michael Krass for Hadestown 

William Ivey Long for Beetlejuice 

William Ivey Long for tootsie 

Bob Mackie for The Cher Show 

Paul Tazewell for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations 

———————————-

Best Lighting Design of a Play 

Neil Austin for Ink 

Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

Peter Mumford for The Ferryman 

Jennifer Tipton for To Kill a Mocking bird 

Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden for Netwrok 

———————————-

Best Lighting Design of a Musical 

Kevin Adams for The Cher Show 

Howell Binkley for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations 

Bradley King for Hadestown 

Peter Mumford for King Kong 

Kenneth Ponser and Peter Nigrini for Beetlejuice 

———————————-

Best Sound Design of a Play 

Adam Cork for Ink 

Scott Lehrer for To Kill a Mockingbird 

Fitz Patton for Choir Boy 

Nick Powell for The Ferryman 

Eric Sleichim for Network 

———————————-

Best Sound Design for a Musical 

Peter Hylenski for Beetlejuice 

Peter Hylenski for King Kong 

Steve Canyon Kennedy for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

Drew Levy for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz for Hadestown 

———————————-

Best Direction of a Play 

Rupert Goold for Ink 

Sam Mendes for The Ferryman 

Bartlett Sher for To Kill a Mockingbird 

Ivon van Hove for Netwrok

George C. Wolfe for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus 

———————————-

Best Direction of a Musical 

Rachel Chavkin for Hadestown 

Scott ellis for Tootsie 

Daniel Fish for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! 

Des McAnuff for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

Casey Nicholaw for The Prom

———————————-

Best Choreography 

Camille A. Brown for Choir Boy 

Warren Carlyle for Kiss Me, Kate

Denis Jones for Tootsie

David Neumann for Hadestown

Sergio Trujillo for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

———————————-

Best Orchestrations 

Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose for Hadestown

Simon Hale for Tootsie

Larry Hochman for Kiss Me, Kate

Daniel Klager for Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Harold Wheeler for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations  

 

All the best to those nominated! The 73rd Annual Tony Awards will take place on Sunday 9th June 2019.

Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts and predictions!

 

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

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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

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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

Brendan Cole: All Night Long – UK TOUR (Review)

Brendan Cole: All Night Long (UK tour )

New Theatre, Oxford

★★★★

Brendan Cole: All Night Long

New Theatre, Oxford

Seen November 5th, 2018 

Reviewed by Jade Prince 

★★★★

If you watch Strictly Come Dancing religiously, then Brendan Cole is a familiar name in your household. I like to think he warmed your hearts every Saturday night…that was until he got the boot! 

He is still doing what he loves however he isn’t static anymore. Brendan is now touring the UK with his very own show. A show you can see he has put his all into. Dazzling the audience with the classic dance genres you’d expect, from the Rumba to American Smooth to Jive with fabulous vocals and a 13-piece band to accompany. 

This is not a show I would have normally considered seeing. That being said, I really enjoyed it. It started off a little shaky and I was sat there thinking, “Oh! What have I done? Why am I here?”, but it did not take long for Brendan to convert me! Yes, the opening number was shaky. There was a near miss on stage when the spacing went out the window and a rather anticlimactic quick change. But the show itself was very much like a great red wine, it got better with time. Each number topped the one before. 

It definitely was not the set up I was expecting. I very much thought I’d be watching group dance, after group dance, after group dance. Obviously, it was very dance based, its a dance show! But it was split into bitesize sections and kept the audience engaged. It was a continuous change of solos, duet work, vocal performances and extravagant group numbers. 

The choreography was incredibly varied. Occasionally, from my limited experience of watching live dance, the steps can feel very repetitive from number to number. Not in this show. I’d say that no style of dance neighboured a similar style of dance in this line up. My favourite dance of the night had to be the Argentine Tango to ‘Skyfall’. It was mesmerising and a stunning demonstration of dreamy teamwork between Brendan and Faye Huddleston

In between the dance numbers brought a more intimate vibe to the show. Just the audience and Brendan. The script was cheesy in places however the sass it what killed me! It was vicious but delivered in such a  nonchalant way. 

Certain numbers where the music worked better with the addition of the lyrics as a pose to the backing track saw Ian Mackenzie and Jenna Lee-James came into play. I was very impressed with these two. Their vocals were on point and suited every style. It was a really nice touch to have breaks in the show for the dancers where both Ian and Jenna could have their own moments to shine. 

Aside from the couple of messy legs, it was a really enjoyable night. If you love watching strictly as a family you need to come along and see this with them. A night of great entertainment. Mr. Brendan Cole will surely warm your heart. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for Brendan’s new show which will be quickstepping its way across the UK in early 2019. Click here for tickets, venues and the latest information on “Brendan Cole Show Man Tour”

The Wider Earth – REVIEW

The Wider Earth 

Natural History Museum, London

★★★★

The Wider Earth

Natural History Museum, London

 

Seen October 20th, 2018

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★

We all know the name Charles Darwin and how his discoveries changed the world however what is less well-known is his very first voyage and the way this changed his own life.

Enter a world of adventure.

As an audience, you are taken onboard HMS Beagle and sail across the world, witnessing first hand the evolution of Darwin. This show provides a unique insight into the battles 22-year-old Charles Darwin (Bradley Foster) faced when reaching for his dream. Striving for acknowledgement in a prestigious community, acceptance from his father (Robert Darwin played by Ian Houghton) and mutual love from Emma Wedgwood (Melissa Vaughan).

The Wider Earth is London’s newest family show and has all the elements a parent would wish for. It’s entertaining, educational and a perfect way to round off a day of learning at the Natural History Museum. This was something I loved the most about the show, it’s setting. Tucked away down one of the grand corridors, the auditorium is situated right next to The Darwin Centre. A perfect pairing.

Lets get onto the show. There were many aspects I enjoyed. The story did exactly what it said it would do. It presented the buildup to Darwin’s first voyage, the voyage itself and then his return. Five years of someone’s life told in two hours. The script had a very comfortable pace. There were no moments that felt rushed and it was definitely presented at a level suitable for all ages. My only criticism would be that the characters were very bland. I didn’t feel much characterisation.

The set was brilliant. It really helped to create an incredibly smooth transition from scene to scene. The rotation also helped to provide the feeling of traveling. There were a couple of transitions where the cast continued acting on the ‘rock’ during the rotation giving the impression they were exploring a new foreign land. It was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, however after a few scene changes the transitions felt a little repetitive and it definitely lost its wow factor.

My favourite element of the show had to be the puppets, I just wished they had more stage time. The design of the puppets was in the form of simplistic mechanisms.  You could see the structure of the inside of the puppet and route of movement. To incorporate the puppets didn’t require additional cast and crew, the cast members you saw onstage also evolved into puppeteers! Watching it on stage was beautiful. They became this extra limb for the puppet/animal displaying all the associated characteristics.

Sound and light was something which really added depth to the show. Throughout, there was an amazing backing track easing the plot through its own organic growth but also, when needed, heightened the intensity. One scene which really sticks out (without giving to much of the story away) was the moment HMS Beagle capsized. The stage and auditorium were a wash of rippling shades of blue. Completely submerged. In fact, replaying that vision whilst writing this, I can easily say that was my favourite scene in the show. So many actions perfectly executed; the sound, the light, the slow motion acting from the cast.

Looking at the whole package it is clear to see why the Natural History Museum was selected to play host to The Wider Earth. No other venue would do.

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Be sure to see The Wider Earth which is calling the Natural History Museum home from now until February 24th 2019. Did I also mention that children go free when paired with a paying adult ticket? It’s true, they do! More information on the show and tickets can be found at: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/the-wider-earth.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