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 calledStages.
The show sees Lorna on stage alongside her Musical Director on piano,Chris Denny.Stagesbegins 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 byBarryKleinbort, 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 directorBarryKleinbort) 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 inStages, 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 & HalHackaday’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 onChris Denny’skeyboard skills with a lovely solo spot.
The raw emotions of the evening came to the fore with IvorNovello& 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 AnthonyNewley& HerbertKkretzmer’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 Stagesto 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 21stcentury.
This musical is about Guy, an overweight millennial gay man and his search for true love. Played by Brendan Matthew, Guy thinks he doesn’t fit into the gay community and his struggles to find the right partner provides the focus for this story. He shares an apartment with Tyler (Steve Banks) and the relationship goes through a number of ups and downs; friendship troubles emanating from Guy setting up a fake profile on the dating app Grindr using Tyler’s picture. Tyler’s distant partner (Adam Braidley) sees the picture, assumes Tyler is on the latter’s ongoing conquest to find love.
Meanwhile, Guy has decided to lose a few pounds in the hope that a fitter body will make him more attractive and therefore easier to find a suitable partner. It is this storyline where Guy meets Aziz (Seann Miley-Moore), a young, fit, good-looking man of whom Guy thinks someone like that would never fall in love with him. In a way, they are a bit of an ‘odd-couple’, but actually have much more in common than each of them initially realise. Their friendship blossoms, but Guy is afraid to take it to the next level for fear of scaring Aziz away. This causes its own problems when Aziz reaches forward for that first kiss; Guy’s self-doubt and insecurities come crashing down on their relationship and it’s then a question of whether or not things can be retrieved or are their irreconcilable differences?
There only four actors in this show and Brendan Matthew shows admirable qualities as he remains on stage for pretty much the whole of the two hour show, portraying Guy’s qualities and inner demons well. Special mention though goes to Seann Miley-Moore who gave a captivating performance and was seriously impressive.
This was my first visit to the King’s Head Theatre. It’s a very small venue, albeit with a surprisingly wide stage. The intimate setting actually worked well for this show, and with only four actors there was plenty of space for them to express themselves. The staging was simple; no scenery as such, just a few props on stage; but this didn’t detract from the storyline. More so, it puts more emphasis on the dialogue and the acting, with no peripheral frills to be concerned with.
There was a sharpness to the script and lyrics, with some cutting one-liners expertly delivered by the cast. Being slightly critical though, I did feel that parts of the dialogue were a bit contrived and some of the scenes in between the 14 songs could perhaps do with a bit of trimming so as to maintain the momentum of the overall show. My only other criticism is that there were a couple of scenes where it wasn’t clear (to me at least!) whether the dialogue taking place was a virtual conversation or a physical one.
Overall, this modern love story serves as a reminder of the dangers of social media. A reliance on a virtual world of the Internet and dating apps to build relationships and to find ‘the one’, is not necessarily a path to success – especially when all may not be as it seems. For anyone though, gay or otherwise, Guy’s tale can serve as a reminder to us all to look in the mirror, accept yourself for who you are, and don’t try to become something you can never be. Embrace your own qualities, focus on the positives and be proud of YOU!
The Beautiful Game performed by the National Youth Music Theatre – REVIEW
The Other Palace, London
The Beautiful Game
The Other Palace, London
Seen August 16th, 2018
Reviewed by Mark Sykes
NYMT was established in 1976 and has had some illustrious alumni and patrons over the years, including Kerry Ellis, Sheridan Smith, Jude Law and Idris Elba, to name but a few. NYMT provides young people with training and mentoring in musical theatre, both those wanting to tread the boards as well as those wanting a career in the creative and technical aspects of theatre.
NYMT’s 2018 summer season features four musicals, three being performed at The Other Palace as part of a 3-week residency. I had never been to a NYMT performance before, but my interest was piqued when I saw that they were doing a production of The Beautiful Game, having seen the original West End production of this back in 2000 (lead by Hannah Waddingham).
The Beautiful Game has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber with book & lyrics by Ben Elton and is set in Belfast between 1969 and 1972. Whilst it has football at its core, the focus is on a group of youngsters dealing with the troubles of the day in Northern Ireland.
One of the perennial issues when putting on a show at The Other Palace is the size of the stage. It’s much smaller than its larger West End cousins, so much credit should be given to choreographer Matt Cole for both the opening football match sequence and the cup final that happens later on. Having so many people on stage at the same time and interpreting a football match in dance could be fraught with issues, but the energy and coordination on display was an impressive feat.
If you listen to the soundtrack, one of the highlights is God’s Own Country. Led by the central character Mary, it provides NYMT’s Aliza Vakil one of numerous occasions during the show where her stage presence and performance belies her youth, as is excellent throughout. Mary’s relationship with John is one of the centre pieces of the story as they fall in love, get married and have a child; but John gets drawn into the troubles of the time and gets incarcerated for having helped his best friend escape from the police. On his release from prison, John has some unfinished business to deal with much to the consternation of Mary; but finally the two are re-united as John seeks some level of redemption for past mistakes. Rueben Browne plays John, and at just 19 years old, gives an impressive performance in conveying the emotions of being torn between family and helping wayward friends.
The character Thomas is one of the main protagonists involved in trouble-making activities, and is commendably performed here by Ned Costello. The scene which leads to someone being ‘knee-capped’ is fraught with tension and provides a jolt to the heart when the gun goes off. The experienced Jasper Britton plays Father O’Donnell, and provides much of the light relief in what at times can seem like a very dark musical; but even with the subject matter at hand, Ben Elton’s lyrics continue to throw in the laughs throughout, helping to lighten the mood.
Director Hannah Crissick has done a sterling job bringing The Beautiful Game back to the stage. All of the NYMT casts members deserve credit in their performance, including Paul French, Edd Conroy, Rory Jeffers, Lucy Carter, TiernaMcNally and all of the ensemble members. Given their age and experience, they all dealt with the subject matter superbly. I only learned after the show that Andrew Lloyd Webber was in the audience the same evening as me; he must have left a very proud man.
The Beautiful Game may deal with issues seen as no longer relevant given the troubles of Northern Ireland belong largely to a bygone era. But the issues at the heart of this story still exist, not only across the Irish Sea but with parallels across the world as religion and violence seem ever intertwined. It’s a story that continues needing to be told. The original cast album is available to listen on Spotify. If you have an account, click here to listen.
The Beautiful Game was staged by NYMT at The Other Palace, 15-18 August 2018.
West End Sings Whitney Houston supporting Women’s Aid – REVIEW
West End Sings Whitney Houston supporting Women’s Aid
The London Cabaret Club, London
Seen May 20th, 2018
Reviewed by Jade Prince
(All photos included in this post are all my own. Hence the amatuer feel!)
This was possibly the very best charity cabaret event I have ever seen.
The talent was to die for, the charity deserved every penny and the whole event was executed perfectly!
West End Sings is a new charity concept with very specific themes. There are the odd one or two events similar by they don’t have this unique quality. This debut event had a rather spectacular theme. One that fit the chosen charity like a glove! It was songs from the one and only, Queen Whitney Houston!!! To sing Whitney songs, you need some smashing vocals and the performers did not disappoint!
Our host for the night was Norman Pace. Along with everything else, he was perfect! The right amount the comedy, the right amount of cheese but also kept the show moving at a good pace.
In total we were treated to 15 performers display the stunning work of Whitney.
Above we have Damien Winchester (currently in Aladdin as swing/cover Genie) singing I’m Every Woman/Million Dollar Bill.
Here we have a picture of Sabrina Aloueche (Chess) killing I Will Always Love You. I bit song to sing but. she. nailed. it.
Nathaniel Morrison (Founder of West End Gospel Choir) singing Greatest Love of All. Damn. Did he slay! This performance gave me life and Nathaniel worked it! He worked that stay, he worked the floor, he worked every part of The London Cabaret Club!
This was a beautiful rendition of How Will I Know sung by Charlotte Riby (Recently in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre)
The attention drifted during the interval but the moment that first note left Liam Tamne’s lips, the room was under his spell! Liam performed I’m Your Baby Tonight/So Emotional.
I’ve always loved Lucie Shorthouse’s voice ever since I saw her last year in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and her performance of It’s Not Right But It’s Okay melted my heart!
This has to be my favourite Whitney song. That is the stunning Run To You. I take my hat off to Summer Strallen (currently paying Inga in Young Frankenstein). It was truly mesmerising!
The event itself was organised and at no point was the charity out of focus. As soon as you walked into The London Cabaret Club, you know what you were there for. Projections were found on the walls in the main concert hall. I have been to many ‘charity’ events where the show starts and the charity is pushed into the background and forgotten. Not with this one and it made me so happy! It was also a charity I hold so close to my heart!
As I mentioned, this is a new venture for West End Sing but I know for sure I will be there 100% of the way! I am very excited to see the next one scheduled in for later this year. They may or may not have revealed the next theme…BRUNO MARS!!!
This is an event crafted with love and passion by all people involved! I am sure we will see you at the next one!
Follow West End Sings on twitter so you now exactly when the tickets go on sale for West End Sings Bruno Mars!
P.S. if Mr. Producer man happens to read this, we so need a Taylor Swift one. This mega swiftie would be in her element! Thanks.
In the heart of a South Yorkshire council estate lies a lonely and dangerous newly evolving, manipulative friendship. Two repressed characters fighting their own demons. One night they start therapy. Therapy to help Pat (Hugh Train) as he is helplessly overcome by dark, violent thoughts. This therapy conveniently masks Danny’s (Robert Walters) own issues. This controlling piece will demand your attention.
The whole concept was great and it evoked many emotions. I started sympathising with the characters and then this feeling changed to disgust with something one of them said. This turned to laughter and then I found myself on the fence not knowing which side to take but in the end I was rooting for Pat whilst also feeling really sorry for Danny.
This is a very captivating show. I really enjoyed it. It was a rollercoaster but a very stable rollercoaster of emotions and intensity. It was spot on! I do love a dark comedy and some of the one liners were fab. A couple of the life analogies very nearly resulted in belly laughter! I did hope it would be funnier but I feel that was partly on the audience. There were not a lot of us there. When that happens, people get very worried about starting the laughter for fear of being the only person laughing. I’d love to see this with a full house. I image it’ll be a completely different show!
Robert Walter’s performance had me on the edge of my seat. From the onset, you could see the sexual predator in him. His glare towards Pat in those first scenes conveyed so many different aspects of his personality. My psychology brain was making an appearance and I could see the fatherly love towards Pat but also the sexual attraction and the controlling desire.
Hats off to Robert Walters and Hugh Train for delivering that performance. I saw it on a very quiet night with very few people in the audience but they kept the energy level consistent throughout and delivered an entrancing performance Both needing someone regardless of how they created the friendship.
For 70 minutes you are surrounded by the undeniable sense of loneliness and smell of battered sausage and chips. It is slightly overwhelming! You will be craving greasy sausage and chips on the way home.
I urge you to see this piece. Beautifully crafted with such a wonderful script. There is a lot more to be seen with this play. I would be really intrigued to to see other piece from the writer, Joseph Skelton.
Fat Jewels is at The Hope Theatre until July 21st. This isn’t one to miss. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession). More information and tickets can be found here.
This will only be a quick one about Lion King simply because I feel this show doesn’t need another review. I simply want to document my thoughts because all of mu previous beliefs were totally wrong!
I always said I’d never see Lion King as it was overrated, over-priced and dated. Boy, do I retract those statements!
I was in London on a Saturday and had no matinee show so I decided to pop in to the box office to see what the day seat situation looked like. I wasn’t;t expecting anything as ti was 10:30am. Lo and behold they had one lonely seat left. For £20, how could I refuse. So I was seeing the show I had always labelled as overrated.
I tell you what, as soon as the opening number started, “The Circle of Life”, I had chills everywhere! It didn’t take much more to make me cry like a baby. As soon as the giraffes came out I was gone!
Regardless of how long its been in the west end, it still works that Disney magic. Its classic Disney magic.
The puppetry was stunning, Not just the animals but also the scenery. Those grass costumes were so creative!
With the incredible feeling that show gave me, I could so easily get addicted to it!
It was nothing high tech but it worked so well. I never expected that stage and my mind was blown by the way if was used to create those iconic scenes we all know and love.
I could go on but I’ll stop it here. I love it and have never has that kind of reaction with a show!
In celebration on Knights of the Rose officially opening tonight, here is a little exclusive!
I greet thee!
In celebration on Knights of the Rose officially opening tonight, here is a little exclusive!
Who got to have a quick chat with Rebekah Lowings (Isabel) and Katie Birtill (Hannah) at the press call a couple of weeks ago! The night was so much fun! It was at a medieval banquet! We had some great bellytimber! (<– its an actual medieval word!) I got some great footage which I am in the process of editing so that will be uploaded as soon as its finished!
To start with, we had to ask the basic – Why should be come and see the show?
Katie: It’s so passionate, we have got some fantastic rock songs. It’s a tale of love and betrayal and sacrifice and its really got a lot of heart and soul as well as being a wonderful night of rock entertainment.
Rebekah: It is just sheer passion. It is just so incredible to be on stage with so many people who feel passion and love for the rock music and for the scripture. I mean Jenny (Jennifer Marsden) is absolutely incredible, she’s written this beautiful piece.
Katie: Really luscious language.
Rebekah: The language is ‘Game of Thrones”, very sort of ‘A Knight’s Tale’, Bon Jovi. It’s just like any girls dream to be a princess…but we get to sing rock songs *laughter* It’s absolutely incredible!
You guys performed both days this year at West End LIVE, how was that crowd?
Katie: Electric! As soon as we came out, the crowd was absolutely on our side and it was so fantastic because we were showing something new and everyone was really supportive. It seemed it all went down really well which was really exciting. I mean, just going out there for our first ever performance of any of our work was in front of thousands of people!
And then the interview was cut short as a knight and jester approached! More on that aspect will be revealed in our upcoming video!
Gramercy m’ladies for taking the time to speak with Ginger in the Theatre and all the best for press night! See you there!
Sarah Kendall spent a few nights of her UK tour down in the basement of Soho theatre, the perfect venue for a comedy act. The tour, one-seventeen, takes you on a turbulent retelling of Sarah’s life from the early years up to the present day. It tackles everything; the brilliant highs, some painful lows and everything called life in between. Luck, being a key theme, is able to connect everything at various points during the show.
I have to say this wasn’t the best comedy act I have seen but it most certainly wasn’t the worst. It was a nice, acceptable middle level.
I warmed to her straight away when she called the audience c*nts in under a minute of being on stage. It definitely got the laughs! A real ice breaker. I did appreciate how the word flowed so freely from her mouth. One thing I cannot stand is when comedians scripts that word in as an attempt to get more laughs and it does normally fails miserably. For Sarah, it just slipped out as if she was having a conversation with some friends.
I have to hand it to her for the originality in her jokes. It was real life. Not necessarily real life that everyone could relate to. A few of these stories kind of left me feeling slightly awkward. Not that they were inappropriate just not relatable. I started getting that vibe from other audience members too. It was a rollercoaster of a show. Some highs which were so funny but then there were other parts where I didn’t know whether to laugh or not. It just seemed weird having such serious matters in a comedy show especially presented in that way. The subject matters were obviously life stories, I just felt they went on a little too long and started to bring a bit of a downer on the show. This feeling, however, was immediately removed when Sarah whipped out the next joke!
Something I like about a good comedy show is when the comedian is able to link all the stories together and Sarah certainly did this. I loved the referencing of previous things she spoke about and doubling up the jokes.
Despite the rollercoaster of funny to serious, it had such a great pace. There was never a point where I was urging it to end. Sarah is definitely a great story teller and had the audience in the palm of her hand. Something in comedians which is few and far between specially with the serious matters.
There was another point which made me feel a bit ‘meh’ and that was the ending of the show. It had a rather abrupt ending which left you wanting more. I think it would have been great to see Sarah leave the stage on a real high with the audience roaring with laughter like they did during so much of the show.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable show. One I would recommend. I’d be interested in seeing her again when she comes to my home town later in the tour.
Sarah is currently touring the UK with One-Seventeen. Click here for more information on her upcoming dates and tickets.
Also be sure to follow Sarah on twitter for the latest updates in her travels.
We got to sit down with producer Jeff Parry to discuss his upcoming project and gain a further insight into this new rock musical
May 16th, 2018.
Ginger in the Theatre were very honoured to be invited along to the press call for the new Musical ‘Jukebox Hero’. Out first ever event like this and it was such an exciting experience!
When I tell you what the show is based on, I am pretty sure that most of you will draw a blank (especially those my age) BUT you will know the vast majority of the songs! This musical is based on the hits from Foreigner which span the past 40 years. They are on par with Journey, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles yet Foreigner isn’t recognised on their name alone. The creative team have the mission of changing this.
This launch coincides with Foreigners’ 40th anniversary tour and what better in celebrating such a mile stone than with a show to keep this legacy going.
Jukebox Hero has already seen unprecedented success in ticket sales well before the show even had a cast or went into rehearsals.
It has been revealed that the story in place to accompany the music will be a a coming of age story. When I heard this I was a little hesitant as this is something we see very often. I actually sat down with producer, Jeff Parry, to discuss this concern, I will include that part later on and some of the other questions I got to ask him!
I must admit when I saw that the writers were Dick Clement and Ian La Fanais, some of these concerns faded. This pair have been the greats behind the successes Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Bank Job and a rockumentary entitled ‘To Russia with Elton’. So many of their creations have received a wide array of awards. From their successful career, I feel this story will be different to the other run of the mill coming of age pieces. I’m also really hoping the comedy timings from Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen Pet will transpire on stage!
Jukebox Hero – The Musical is set in a fictional, one industry town in Pennsylvania where suddenly this industry closes and everyone is out of work. Prior to this, Ryan left to become a star. The town’s one hope is getting Ryan back to hold a concert to not only raise money but to also lift the spirits of the town.
The show starts its rehearsal process in July and is set to open in Calgary in August.
After the brief conference panel which provided us with more understanding of the show and some unique insights in the initial birth, we got to sit down and chat to Jeff Parry. It was such a great opportunity. Here’s a couple of points we chatted about:
With Jukebox Hero – the musical, I was wondering how you feel it would be received by the younger audience in London when it eventually arrives over here?
That’s a really good question. We were told that this music might not work here at all, which is why we started in North America. Now we are finding out from Royal Albert Hall etc, that it actually means a lot and a younger audience, I mean, at least at home they’ll listen to classic rock all the time. I think great songs permeate through. We were involved with a lot of classic rock type things like The Beatles, if you can call that classic rock, but great songs are great songs. I think kids listen to what they wanna listen to. I listened to Beethoven and Mozart. Great music will always stand up. Initially, it probably won’t be their thing but I think this is the kind of show where a 12-year-old can go with their mother or grandmother and everyone is going to get something out of it. There’s enough hard rock songs as well as ballads that I think it is something that everyone can enjoy, quite frankly. And the music is great music.
There has been a lot of these types of musicals around recently and the biggest criticism is the storyline. How do you think this storyline is different to the others and will actually work well with the music?
Well, you know, it’s not Shakespeare or whatever. We are not reinventing the wheel here but its a fun story. I think that people want to go for escapism so to speak. The story is a fun story like a lot of them and it will probably get criticised for just being that, it’s not Les Mis. It’s a condiment for the music and I think that it will hold up. But once again it is a fun story. The neat thing about it is, ironically, is that it’s a town going through trouble and is saved by rock ’n’ roll in a sense. The irony is that Alberta in Canada, is oil country and we are going through depressions right now. There’s 30% vacancy rate down town. There is a certain irony to what we are doing and how we are doing it. Once of the thing is Alberta is that they are trying to diversify the economy and starting up a musical in Alberta kinda goes along with that. I like the resemblance of the storyline and how it kinda fits with where we are starting it. It’s ironic because it was never an intention.
It’s incredible. Like you said during the conference panel, when you mention Foreigner, not a lot of people say they’ve heard of them. But everyone knows the songs. My reaction to the vast majority of the songs that I’ve listened to was, “Hey, I know that! My mum’s played that in the car”. My real question is, how do you think you will be able to win the UK audience over to buy tickets?
Well thats the irony. We have already sold tickets to something that we haven’t even produced. We have over $300,000 worth of tickets sold in Canada for a show that hasn’t even been created yet so that tells you something because they are already buying tickets for something which they don’t really now what it is yet. There’s a certain brand to Foreigner which seems to sell. But actually I think you have just stated the magic which is that people go to the theatre when people want familiarity, right? They don’t want to sit through songs that they don’t know. So, I think, like you just said, that people will go there and discover Foreigner even though they already know it. There will be a familiarity there that when you put it all together in one context, I think it’s really got a shot because we’re not introducing new songs. But like you said there will also be surprise, ‘Oh, that’s them?’. I’ve heard people saying ‘I thought that was Journey’, ‘I thought that was Styx’ or something like that. They know the songs but they don’t know it is their song. That will be the magic. I always use the example of Mamma Mia. I’m not an ABBA fan. I went to that show kicking and screaming but I went and I loved it. It was fun and I knew every song, whether I wanted to admit it or not. It made you feel comfortable.
You’ve mentioned fun a lot, obviously the writers have worked with a lot of comedy scripts previously. Is there fun in the show?
Oh, yeah. They won’t do it unless there is. It’s just the way they do things. It’s gonna be fun. It will definitely be fun.
I honestly look forward to seeing where this show goes and how it will be received once opened to the audience in August. All the best, guys!
For more information of JukeBox Hero – The Musical check out their website:http://jukeboxheromusical.comYou can even sign up to their mailing list on there so you never miss the latest updates on the show.
And if any of this has sparked interest (or you need a little more persuading) here’s a link for the initial trailer. I do highly recommend you watch it as it’ll help you link the songs you most certainly know to the band!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRiVjOu-WHw
A Spoonful of Sherman retells the story of the talented generations of the Sherman family. Starting with Al Sherman and his success in the 30s and 40s and then slowly moving on to Robert and Richard Sherman who followed in their father’s footsteps, most commonly known as the Sherman Brothers. We are taken on the journey through the highs and lows they faced and the incredible music they left behind to enrich the world. With music from Disney classics such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book to some good oldies, this show is perfect for every member of the family. There is something so wonderful about it which taps into the heart of so many different reasons.
I was blown away from the onset. Everything about this show is wonderful. I knew from the first note sung that we were in for a treat! I need to talk about the harmonies. Oh why word. They were impeccable. They were able to capture the decades so wonderfully. You were transported right back to the 30s and then slowly taken on the journey up to the present day. No gimmicks. Just pure talent. It was so refreshing to see such a raw show which was so polished. It has the west end wow factor with the set and talent yet doesn’t rely on a band or elaborate set pieces. Just two pianos, five narrators (two of which play the pianos), a few props here and there and the change in lighting to create such a beautiful piece of theatre.
When I first looked at the list of musical numbers before the house opened, I was slightly overwhelmed. I had a real worry that this show would go on for hours and hours considering 55 numbers are squeezed in. 55?! I have to say that they have crammed so much of the good stuff into this show. It didn’t feel long at all and had such a great flow. You really hear every thing from every milestone in the Sherman family’s history. The song medleys we phenomenal. They really helped to move the show along and gave it great pace. It all seamlessly blended together.
The first act was all very new to me. I don’t typically listen to music from that era but it was great to hear. It wasn’t until the end of act 1 where I started to get rather emotional and nostalgic. Those where the songs that I grew up with! To quote Robbie Sherman, the creator of the concept of the show:
“If you grew up with Mary Poppins then Mary Poppins was in your DVD player or VHS and you watched it over and over again. This was your baby sitter. A personal friend.” <— The full interview can be found here.
I could not agree more. This show will honestly touch everybody. Those from a young age who are only just being introduced to those Disney classics, to those young adults who grew up with Disney as their babysitter and to those middle-aged and older who might have heard the older Sherman songs but are also experts on the well known Disney numbers thanks to their own children and grandchildren. It is a beautiful family outing which connects every generation.
I also need to take a moment to appreciate the set. Wow! What a set that was! It was so aesthetically pleasing but yet so diverse for this show. It was a white box but without looking like a white box. When the tone of the number changed, so did the set with the help of the lighting. I clearly remember how drastic the change was from “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” to “Wind’s in the East”. It was able to go from a really jolly song to something a lot darker in mood. Gabriella Slade did such a wonderful job! It allowed the pianos to blend in so perfectly and allowed their movements to become part of the show.
Overall this show is stunning and I would urge everyone to see it. Take your family and have a great night out. I will definitely be racing to see it again when it stops in my home town at the end of April. Good, old fashioned entertainment that won’t break the bank.
It is such a stunning legacy to the Shermans and a beautiful was to learn the history of such an iconic family who have touched billions of lives.
All information of the ticket websites for various theatres, dates and stops on the tour can be found here. I have included the current upcoming dates and locations below.
–There is also a cheeky little link to a giveaway we are holding if you are quick and catch it in time! Continue down to the bottom of this post for the link–
Upcoming UK & Ireland tour dates:
5-7 April 2018 – Grand Theatre, Swansea
15-17 April 2018 – Queens Theatre, Hornchurch
18-20 April 2018 – Shanklin Theatre, Isle of Wight
24-26 April 2018 – Octagon Theatre, Yeovil
30 April – 1 May 2018 – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon <–My next dates planned!
7-9 May 2018 – Lincoln Theatre Royal, Lincoln
14-15 May 2018 – Playhouse Theatre, Weston-Super-Mare
16-18 May 2018 – Northcott Theatre, Exeter
31 May – 1 June 2018 – Everyman Theatre, Cork
2-3 June 2018 – Pavilion Theatre, Dublin
We currently have a giveaway active on our twitter page. Click here to enter.
Robbie has definitely given ‘Ginger in the Theatre’ a very unique, all access insight into the creation of such a beautiful show which is currently touring the UK.
Amidst his very busy schedule, we were able to chat to Robbie Sherman before the UK tour of ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ gets into full swing. We had a lovely chat about his early life and his discovery of music as well as his family who have touched millions and millions of lives over the past decade. Robbie has definitely given ‘Ginger in the Theatre’ a very unique, all access insight into the creation of such a beautiful show which is currently touring the UK. You are in for a treat!
To start off with, coming from a musically gifted family, has music always been a part of your life?
Absolutely, it has. My earliest memories always seem to be connected to listening to my dad and uncles’s songs and they were really in the top of their careers in in those years so when I was first born and the first couple of years after that and so I always had music around and I always knew that I wanted to be a songwriter.
Was it something which you actively pursued at school considering you had it so present at home?
Its a funny thing but not so much in school. I pursued music in the high school marching band. I played the glockenspiel, the tuber and then became the drum major of the band. And then I was also in the ‘Magical Singers’ and I was the student conductor of that group. But my songwriting really was something that I did more extracurricularly.
Obviously your parents and family had a big influence on your career choice but were there any external factors or people who also inspired you over the years?
Certainly on a broader sense there were always external people because it wasn’t just the people in my family who were my favourites. I was a Beetles fan from very early on and they are still my favourite band. In the musical theatre realm everyone from Gilbert and Sullivan to Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim and even the modern songwriters of today, some of whom are younger than I am are influential to me and I think in order to be a writer you have to open to everything that is going on and not to just close yourself to one period of time. You have to know your history but also know where you are in the present.
So, a little one to put you on the spot, is there any particular piece that you are most proud of? Or is that like asking a parent who their favourite child is?
As far as a single song, I have the same answers that my father does that is, exactly what you just said, being a parent and you can’t just pick one. However, there are three projects that I am most proud of. I would say that the writing I did on a musical I did a few years ago at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, called LoveBirds. It’s a musical that I wrote the script and songs for. Thats the work I’m most proud of and I feel is my best work. Probably second and third would be this current script for ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ where I’ve done something kind of interesting where you get the story of the songwriters in my family and I’ve made the idea of the Sherman brothers, the idea of my dad and uncle into a protagonist. I am very proud because it wasn’t an idea that necessarily worked but from what the critics have said it seems to have. I am very pleased with that and the fact that they are getting that kind of recognition. And then there was another script that I wrote with my father, actually, for an animated project called ‘Inkas The Ramfriankas’ and this is a project that I have worked on the last 20 years. I was in my early 20s and my dad and I took a story of his and made it into a picture animated script about a flying dinosaur. And that script is one of the best things I’ve done. Those three are the ones that I’m most proud of.
Would you be able to divulge any methods in how you compose to our readers? Is there a standard method you use or does it vary?
For me, generally speaking, it is that first moment of inspiration and finding something inspiring. That could be a line, often times its the title of the song, it’s the idea of the song that comes first. Then it’s that idea even though its not fully formed and as the writer you can imagine what the whole thing will look like. And I’m sure you’re the same way when you write an article, you know what its going to look like. Now you have to roll up you sleeves and do the work and chisel away. As my father use to say, there are three parts to a song – there’s the music and the lyrics but there is also the third part which is the idea. I know that they [father and uncle] spent a tremendous amount of time just discussing ideas and thinking about what would be a fresh idea for a song. This remains true for a song or a show itself. Does the show lend itself to being told in a musical manner and not every story does. You wouldn’t necessarily want to do ‘death of a Salesman’ as a musical or ‘Angles in America’ as a musical. You could. I think they could both be very good musicals but it may be that the script or the poetry can stand alone. You have to ask yourself ‘does music aid the telling of this story or does it get in the way?’
On to the show now, back in 2014 ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ opened. How did the idea for this show come about?
It’s a good question because this show has evolved so much since 2014. When I originally conceived the show with my music director, Colin Villing, he and I said that what we wanted to do is tell three generations of songwriters in the same family. And my concept was that it would be a great musical family tribute to my father who suddenly passed away and year and a half earlier in 2012 and it fell on the heels of the movie ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ and most significantly on the heels of the release on my dad’s autobiography which is called ‘Moose: Chapters from my Life’. That was his nickname, Moose. But he wasn’t around, sadly, to see the release of his book which he worked on so hard. We were going to do a UK book launch and rather than having me signing the book as the book editor as my name is rather similar to my father’s, I am also Robert Sherman. People might have gotten the wrong idea and might have thought that I was passing myself off as my father. They might have been sadly surprised that my father had passed away and they didn’t know. We thought that we can’t just do a traditional book signing. We’ll do a musical tribute. So we created this piece that I was the narrator of and I wrote it. We had four singers, piano player and myself. And it was very different to what we have now. This show is like watching a west end show. It’s like looking at a musical. There’s dancing, there’s movement, there’s a lot of backstory and a lot of history but you don’t feel like you’re watching a cabaret. You feel like you are watching a proper musical and that’s how its evolved. It’s also not so much of a tribute to my father but both my father and uncle and my grandfather and a little bit about me. That’s what the story is and it builds up the myth of the Sherman Brothers. It gives you the story that a lot of people don’t know. These are the people who created the songbook of our childhoods. You construct that in the second act and realise that tremendous gift they gave us. We take human beings who had struggles and triumphs in life and the world is richer for it from the great musicals they created. Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, these are things that everybody knows the words to.
That is beautiful. They have truly given so much to the world. Looking back on my own childhood, there are song many songs that come to mind from those movies which your family have written and it is wonderful.
Thank you. I agree and its a funny thing for me because when I was young I would hear the songs and it was just me and I didn’t realise so many kids around the world were listening to these songs to. When creating the show we had to make the serious decision of whether it was possible to do this show without me as the narrator as its personal when I do it but the conclusion that we all came to was as long as we get actors and performers who love this music then its not just personal for me, its personal for everyone who loves this music. If you grew up with Mary Poppins then Mary Poppins was in your DVD player or VHS and you watched it over and over again. This was your baby sitter. A personal friend to you. Like so much of TV and music is. And for that reason we create this family on stage. It’s just as personal as it is to me as it is to you. Yes, its a little different but it doesn’t make it any less personal.
With your family having created so many wonderful songs, how did you create the set list for the show to showcase the best of the best?
I’ve got to compliments you, thats a great question. It really is because its the heart of why this show works. This show is an intimate show. It’s meant to be an intimate show. It was when it was a cabaret and it is now that its more of a musical stage show. The idea because it goes to the heart of us as children and the secret is that we don’t just do big hits. We don’t just do ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, ‘The old Bamboo’. We also do songs that you maybe haven’t heard of. Songs from my grandfather. He was a hit songwriter in the 30s and 40s. We used songs that specifically accented points in the lives of the Sherman Brothers which is very much like the lives of everybody. Like I said, this is a universal story, not just my family’s. The 1960s happened to be a very optimistic time for Americans but it was a great time for my dad and uncle as well. So, that’s how we chose the songs. There’s a song called ‘A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ that my father and uncle wrote for The World’s Fair so we include that song because it accents that time and tells the audience the story of that moment in history. You have a grandparent and they remember that time very well and how positive that was and they say “you know, it was a great big beautiful tomorrow. We did most of that”. With this show we really suffer an embarrassment of riches with this show because there are so many really amazing songs that my dad and uncle wrote and my grandfather wrote, I would have loved to have more of mine in there but there just isn’t room. Ultimately you have to serve the story, you can’t have a five hour show. But that’s how we chose it. It was basically what helps us accent the story and make it come alive for people so its not just a little bit of narration and a song or why I love the song. No, this was how does this universally appeal to the world?
Do you feel any pressure keeping this legacy going?
Yes but its all self-imposed. Nobody ever said to me that I must keep this legacy going or you’ll bring shame to our family. My father was very happy that I wanted to follow in his footsteps but didn’t ever pressure me to do so. There are many things we do to keep the legacy going. One thing besides my writing aspirations is that I am also the trustee of my family’s archives. There is literally over a hundred years of songwriting that is being digitised as we speak and fifty thousands photographs that have been digitised already. That aspect of the legacy is also being maintained.There are odd arrangements of musicals that you have never heard of like this musical called ‘The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band’ that came out in 1968 and there are marching band arrangements for this. Somebody thought it was a worth while thing.The movie wasn’t a big success. If we don’t archive this, they’ll disappear. They’ll just go away. But you know for that one instance where someone might want to use that matching band arrangement it could be a fantastic thing. So, we’re preserving the legacy for the next generation. As far as my own work, if I could do even a fraction of what my father and uncle accomplished. If I could write a musical a year that makes people happy and puts a smile on their face and gives them a better way of looking at life. If I do ten or twenty of those I’ll feel great.
From your point of view, why should people come and see ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’?
I think people should see ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ because, although they don’t realise it until they see it, it’s the song book of their childhoods. And people have a deep emotional connection. I see this night after night. People will come up to me literally in tears saying ‘you don’t know what such and such song meant to me. I didn’t realise your father and uncle wrote that song’. Its a very heart warming and deep personal reaction. Children are riveted throughout the piece. Five year olds. Seven years olds sit there and they don’t fidget. They just watch and they are mesmerised because tis a very visual show. Our cabaret wasn’t as visual but this is very visual. But then you have 75 year olds and 80 year olds who know the music because like I said my grandfather wrote for all these famous singers: Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson. He wrote for all of these people. You don’t realise that you know these songs. I think that that is really the reasons people should see it. It’s a lot of fun and its a lot of memories. Its very moving in a way that surprises people. I should also add that we have a tremendously talented cast. We have five performers. There is a certain rawness to this because we have two pianos and five singers and you can’t hide. You don’t have five tenors singing this one part. You have one tenor, one soprano, one alto and one base. If a note or a voice cracks you hear it but it make it very real. You get the real thing. You have these vocal harmonies that are so true to the times and we wanted to stay true to the decades these were written. So we are not just giving the feeling of the time but also giving the authenticity and its something that you just don’t hear in a west end scenario. Its heartfelt music.
And finally, have you got any new ventures planned for the future?
Oh lots! Too many. There are so many wonderful things. So, my biggest thing right now is to make sure that this tour seems to be successful and then to expand the tour to other places. We could play all over the world: Australia, Canada, even Germany and South Africa. Theres a lot of places the show could play and would have a tremendous appeal. But then my show ‘Love Birds’ which I was telling you was a big hit both critically and with the audience alike in the Edinburgh Fringe. I am way overdue to deliver a two act version of this. With fringe shows, it is alway a one hour piece which isn’t really a conventional way to introduce a musical to the west end. I would love nothing more than to see this make it to the west end and broadway. I have two or three other shows that I am very eager to begin. I have bits and pieces of songs, scenes but before I go any further on that I need to get the first things done. There is also all my dad’s stuff. There’s books, like I mentioned. There are books that have never seen the light of day. I would love to get those published. I personally recommend anyone who is a Sherman Brothers fan to read my dad’s autobiography ‘Moose: Chapters From My Life’. It really is tremendous. It is more than just, sort of, a Hollywood book. In fact, its almost not a Hollywood book in a way because it has the Hollywood stories but it doesn’t start with them. It starts with war stories. I also have my grandfathers autobiography that was never published and I’d loved to get that going. Theres a lot of things to keep me occupied over the next few years.
It’s great to hear we have plenty of wonderful things coming from Robbie Sherman and of his family legacy in the near future.
It was an absolute pleasure talking to Robbie and I urge you all to see ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ at some point on it’s UK tour. A truly stunning show suitable for all.
Okay, so this will have two parts. Two separate posts. One being a review of the most recent production at The Other Palace and the other being comments on the development. I managed to see the show back in 2016 at the Cockpit theatre when it was ’27’. I loved the show back then and still do today.
I will try my hardest to make this review as if it was my first encounter with the show.
This was a workshop run at The Other Palace.
For those not aware of this story, it is heavily based on Ancient Greek mythology. More specifically Orpheus and his encounter with the underworld. As the rock score would imply it is a modern rendition of this historical tale.
This is most definitely a darker show in comparison to those in London currently. It touches on the very difficult topic of mental health. It perfectly represents how mental health is overlooked and how when it is identified, all attention goes to that one person drawing focus away from those also suffering. This is something that occurs so often.
Orpheus is the lead character struggling with a huge life change, being propelled to stardom. The audience are shown his ways of coping which are detrimental to his life, health, friends and family. An even darker turn is that all of this had been decided before hand. The fates knew exactly what they were doing.
The vocals were outstanding. Oh my goodness. That cast is so talented. The harmonies and power. They tore the roof off the theatre. Some standouts were definitely Eloise Davies (Clotho, a fate), Jodie Jacobs (Atropos, another fate), Joel Harper-Jackson (Orpheus) and Zoe Birkett (Miss. M) That’s not to say the rest of the cast weren’t on fire because they most certainly were. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a cast of that standard. Not a single weak link.
Although I really enjoyed the show there were a few things which I noted which could’ve been improved and with it being a workshop feedback is needed to develop it into the wonderful show it could be. I believe there is a lot of improvement to be had with the script. As previously stated, the whole concept of the show is very unique. I just felt parts of the script fell flat. One particular scene was about halfway through act 1 when Orpheus meets Hades in the underworld. That scene was very dragged out and I even found myself losing interest and willing the next number to come along.
I really struggled with the names. I know that they are all Ancient Greek mythology related which is very in keeping. I just really struggled remembering them and therefore making connections with the characters. Obviously having such an emotional show I feel it should be important to put memorable names to faces. I had no issues with some names such as Mel, Miss. M, Pandora, Orpheus (obviously!) and Hades. The main characters. But if you were to ask me what the other minor characters were called, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
One thing I like about The Other Palace is that the performance is not restricted to the stage. Throughout the show the stairs were uses (not too great if your back was facing said stairs) and characters actually sat in spare seats in the audience. There was a chat show scene where this worked so well.
Something which really got to me emotionally was the final number. The main stage was used but also the stairs of the theatre. One was a happy image and one was sad but you could choose which one you wanted to watch. I am not too sure why that blew my mind but it was a really nice touch. This also links to the chat show scene. It is nice to have the choice in what you watch although the whole story is still present. Easily missed behaviours and actions are noticed which add so much more to your understanding of the show.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Outstanding music with a great plot. I really need a cast recording ASAP!
I really do think that I have found my favourite new musical. The whole concept is incredible. I can really see it being mega when everything is where it needs to be. I am beyond excited to see how this show develops even further in the future and endeavour to be there every step of the way!
Part two of this post is linked here were you can see some of my thought on developmental changes which have been made since 2016.
I saw Myth back in 2016 at the Cockpit theatre under its previous name, ’27’. For those not aware of this story, it is heavily based on Ancient Greek mythology. More specifically, Orpheus and his encounter with the underworld. As the rock score would imply it is a modern rendition of this historical tale. Over the past two years it has gone back into development. Here, I will be making a note of the changes I notices and whether I personally feel that they were beneficial for the shows development.
–Keeping in line with my other posts, I shall be keeping this very honest.–
I do have to say this right off the bat before we go any further – I don’t like the new name. It is so generic. My response to the name change was ‘myth, of what?’. 27 was much more catchy and more unique. It gave the insight as to what the show was about without revealing too much and was still enough to spark people’s curiosity. Having spoke to Sam Cassidy after the 2018 show, I still stand by my view. His reasoning behind the name change is valid however I feel it could have been executed in a better way. I don’t feel that Myth markets the show as it should do and is actually underselling it currently. If I hadn’t have previously seen 27 and I had stumbled across Myth’s page on The Other Palace’s website I would have been, “Okay, if I get around to seeing it, I’ll see it”, It wouldn’t have gone straight to the top of my theatre list.
When I saw the show back in 2016 the only real criticism I had was the script. It had a real amateur feel to it. Something which I would have expected to see from a GCSE candidate. I was very pleased to see that the 2018 production had had a lot of work done on it script wise. It seemed so much stronger. Back at the cockpit it wasn’t until act 2 that you actually realised the story whereas now it is made clear from the onset. The script seems a lot more engaging with quick little one-liners throughout. Those did make me chuckle. It was a nice touch having these as the show is very dark so it was almost a relief to be laughing at moments. There was one scene in act 1 where Orpheus meets Hades for the first time in the Underworld and for me that was the weakest part in the script. It seemed incredibly long winded for what was happening. I actually did lose interest and was willing for the next number to start because I knew how great the music was! But to only have this in one part of the show was a great step up.
Side note on the script – I adore the fact they kept the section on “hey, boy. What are you thinking about?”. My heart melted. “You, my favourite thing” Gone. Love it.
I really like the fact the ‘fates’ had more of a presents this time. It felt like they did anyway. It was great seeing a deeper characterisation of them. Atropos being the ‘mummy’ fate and keeping the other two in check and then jumping to the other extreme with Clotho who seemed to be the youngest with a purer heart.
I understand that this was a workshop production so the budget was very limited however I would definitely like to see more of a difference in the reality and the underworld. Just to make things a little clearer on the audience’s side. Same goes with the character appearances. I loved the way the ensemble were predominately in black but I did think Orpheus and the other band members didn’t have a real rock look. They could have easily passed for a mediocre pop group (which, I suppose, is what they are to start with!). I just wasn’t getting that rock star vibe especially from Orpheus.
This 2018 version had a lot of new songs added. Some I was able to catch and noted that they were the new ones but they all blended in so well. Went so naturally together. So much so, some I completely believed had already been in the show. Once again, the music is just incredible. It is always a positive when you come out of the theatre singing the songs. One of the new editions which actually closed the show was great! Definitely the anthem of the show. I mean, it was rather cliche. I really up beat, feel good song but it is a well justified remedy after a show touching on some depressing elements.
The characterisation of Hades definitely changed but I appreciate this will differ from actor to actor. Ryan Malloy gave it a more edgier feel whilst portraying the sinister side. After all, he is the devil! Whereas this time around it was more…annoying. It was the very typical *insert British accent* “proper British devil!”. You didn’t want to hate or like him, rather ignore him.
I know this post seems incredibly negative however I really do want the best for this show. I absolutely adore it and will continuously be raving about it. It has such great potential and I cannot wait to see it blossom into the next West End hit!
I did review the workshop production at The Other Palace is you are interested in reading that too!