King Kong appears to have not taken the crown this Broadway season after announcing its final performance will take place on August 18th 2019. It has been a competitive season with film to musical adaptations dominating The Great White Way.
Unlike the other film to musical shows, King Kong had the upper hand. A unique, out of this world way of bringing the legendary Kong to the stage. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to ensure a longer run.
Following the story of the film with the same title, King Kong takes you on board the filming voyage from New York to Skull Island. Unbeknownst to the cast and crew, they had just invaded the king of the jungle’s territory. An unlikely bond is forged between the lead actress Ann Darrow (Christiani Pitts however at this performance we had a cover, Lissa DeGuzman) on the film shoot and Kong.
The plot and script were the biggest downfall. It fell completely flat. However, King Kong has an advantage because everything else is done to such a high standard, the audience are willing to forgive the lack of plot. I know that I was. The audience is so entranced in Kong himself that the story takes a backseat. I’m inclined to say it’s a blessing for the show.
Even before we laid eye on Kong, the audience witnessed a stunning transition on stage. In the midst of wonderful choreography, the back of the stage elevated to create the bow of the ship. Something I was not expecting! I had heard of the boat scene prior to seeing the show. In fact, reviewer Mark had seen the show and commented on this. He admitted it made him feel a little nauseous which I completely understand now! I was towards the rear of the orchestra, safely in row U but I can see why people would feel that way when sitting close to the stage. Especially with no fixed features in their peripheral vision.
The direction of the show was stunning with the pinnacle being the huge revealing of Kong. I really appreciated how it was a gradual introduction and not a sudden thing for the audience. The suspense was meticulously crafted. The auditorium fell silent. The sound was incredible, and you felt as if you were right there in the cave. I really lost it when the teeth became visible. The gradual reveal was almost too much to handle! I will never forget my friend looking over at me and laughing because my mouth was wide open, and I was edging further forward in my seat. She had seen the show before and knew what to expect however for me, I really felt like a little kid. Very rarely do you find theatre which makes you feel that way.
As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough to see a cover in the role of Ann Darrow. Lissa DeGuzman had a gorgeous stage presence. I can’t imagine how daunting it would be to share the stage with Kong. It would be so easy to be upstaged and cast into the shadows however DeGuzman did a fabulous job of drawing the focus to herself to avoid this. They were able to share the stage harmoniously and really complimented each other.
The puppetry control of Kong was mind-blowing! Props to the design team and team operating Kong during the show! Every single one of you reminded me why theatre is so special. It is moments like that that make it.
All in all, the technical side of this show completely outweighed the lack of story. It truly is a stunning piece and I urge you to see it!
— 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!
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.
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
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.
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.