Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – REVIEW

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – REVIEW

Dominion Theatre, London

★★★★

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical – Gala Performance

Dominion Theatre, London

 

Reviewed by Mark Sykes

Seen November 25th, 2019

★★★★

This reviewer, at the ripe old age of 55(!), has literally spent a lifetime watching the classic White Christmas movie, so having missed out on seeing this production when it premiered at the Curve, Leicester in December 2018, I was really looking forward to finally seeing this story come to life on-stage – and thankfully the evening lived up to my expectations.

Without getting too much into the details of a story that no doubt the majority of readers will be familiar with, it focuses on two WW2 army veterans (Wallace and Davis) who become a major song-and-dance act after their careers end. They bump into the Haynes sisters, who are also a popular song-and-dance act with a burgeoning career. They all end up at a winter lodge in Vermont that is sadly lacking any snow. Wallace and Davis bump into their former General, the owner of the lodge, who has bills piling up as the lack of snow means a dearth of paying customers. Wallace, Davis and the Haynes sisters concoct a plan to put on a Christmas concert at the lodge to help out the General. The parallel story is one of love between the army veterans and the two sisters – one relationship comes easy, the other needs some matchmaking to be done!

The staging at the Dominion Theatre focuses on the barn at the lodge where the Christmas concert is to be held. The simple wooden structure enables the various sets to seamlessly transition between scenes, whether it’s a New York ballroom, a train carriage, or the reception of the Vermont lodge. Interestingly, the band were situated on-stage to the left of the audience and split over two levels of the barn. For me this worked well (as it wasn’t a large orchestra) and enabled them to support some of the scenes more effectively than if they’d been hidden away elsewhere. I particularly loved the neon lighting that often featured in the set design created by Michael Taylor, and overall everything worked well whether it was simple or complex scene.

The highlights of the show for me happened on the big song-and-dance numbers. The vast expanse of the Dominion stage provided ample space for all of the cast to be involved in Stephen Mear’s wonderful choreography. On more than one occasion these big numbers had me thinking back to the recent hit production of 42nd Street which was impressively led by Clare Halse, and which is fitting seeing as that Clare is one of the Haynes sisters and is tremendous throughout. The other sister is Danielle Hope, she has the most wonderful voice and who I last saw demonstrating her vocal prowess in concert at The Other Palace back in the summer. Clare and Danielle work well together as sisters with excellent dynamics between the two of them.

Danny Mac as Wallace and Dan Burton as Phil Davis wouldn’t seem out of place in the original movie. They have the looks, can sing the American songbook, and have dancing skills that make it look so effortless. Following on in the footsteps of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is an enormous undertaking, but they do the show justice – never more so than in the big energetic song-and-dance numbers previously mentioned. It’s on those occasions that the Dominion really comes alive and takes on a different dimension.

General Waverley is played by Michael Brandon. Again, showing my age here, Michael became particularly well-known in the UK as a result of the 80’s TV series Dempsey & Makepeace, of which I was a big fan. It was great to see him on stage, and this native New Yorker was perfect casting for the ageing (sorry Michael!) American General. Brenda Edwards was the crafty receptionist at the lodge charged with keeping both the lodge and the General under control. A former X Factor contestant from 2005, Brenda has a wonderful voice that when she lets rip, makes you immediately think of her standing up in church delivering a gospel classic. Which is ideal seeing as she’s appearing as Deloris in the Sister Act UK tour in 2020.

All of the cast were wonderful. Whether it was the singing, the dancing or the numerous comedic moments, there wasn’t one weak link. There is one other person that I would like to highlight though, and that is the General’s niece. This role is alternated across three children and for the Gala night it was Erin Rushidi. Erin was truly outstanding, particularly with the comic timing, and pretty much stole every scene that she was in. The audience loved her! She is a tremendous talent and definitely one to watch out for in the future.

As for the show itself, it gets off to a slightly slow start as the foundations of the story are built at the start of act one in the army days, but that quickly moves on and then the rest of the show pretty much flies by. Song after familiar song happens apace, and whilst you’re waiting in anticipation for ‘that’ final scene, you can’t help but revel in the visual feast in front of your eyes. There are some wonderful costumes, designed by Diego Pitarch.

This production follows the storyline very closely, and there were a number of times when I was getting quite emotional seeing elements of the movie come to life in front of my very eyes. Whilst the finale was always going to be a special moment, another highlight was when Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes sang ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’. Danny Mac and Danielle Hope performed this beautifully, and yes there may well have been a tear in my eye at the end of that song. So, to the finale itself, White Christmas. This was everything I wanted it to be. Yes, we all know what happens when the barn doors are opened, but it was fabulous to see this scene come to life and the snow begin to fall.

Director Nikolai Foster has done a brilliant job with this production. I suspect the majority of audience members will be familiar with the story and have seen the movie before (who hasn’t?!); well none of these should leave disappointed. Yes, some elements of the storyline and some of the jokes may seem dated in the 21st century, but if you walk into the theatre putting all that aside, you will find yourself with a definite smile on your face, a chuckle here and there (well actually, quite a few chuckles!), and a propensity to want to sing along! And on that latter point, everyone gets the opportunity to do that at the end.

Even the most hardened of hearts cannot fail to be softened by what they see and hear in this production. Everyone will be leaving the theatre with a smile on their face, maybe a few tears in their eyes, and no doubt looking forward to seeing the movie on TV again this Christmas. For me, I’m seeing the show again over the Christmas period, and I can’t give a better recommendation than that!

White Christmas will be continuing to provide cheer during this festive season. Be sure to catch this winter warmer. 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

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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!

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

 

West End Sings Whitney Houston supporting Women’s Aid – REVIEW

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.

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Above we have Damien Winchester (currently in Aladdin as swing/cover Genie) singing I’m Every Woman/Million Dollar Bill.

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Here we have a picture of Sabrina Aloueche (Chess) killing I Will Always Love You. I bit song to sing but. she. nailed. it.

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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!

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

 

Chit-Chat and Tea: Knights of the Rose

Chit-Chat and Tea: Knights of the Rose

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: Uh-mazing!
Rebekah: Electric!
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!
More information about the show and tickets can be found at http://knightsoftherose.co.uk
Farewell, peasants!

West End Bake Off 2018

“Each year it helps to raise money for the outstanding charity ‘Acting For Others’. This year alone, £9,500 was raised in those short hours. Isn’t that mad?!”

May 19th, 2018

This year I was delighted when I found out I was in London the weekend of West End Bake off. But to make it even better…I was free between 11am-1pm!!! Winning!

You all know I went.

West End Bake off has been a successful charity event which is held each year in the cosy grounds of The Actor’s Church in Covent Garden. Each year it helps to raise money for the outstanding charity ‘Acting For Others’. This year alone, £9,500 was raised in those short hours. Isn’t that mad?!

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The sun came out in all its glory to support the event. There was a real buzz as you entered with everyone eager to see the stagey creations. Roughly 20 west end shows turned up to displayed their baking skills and support. So much talent!

To say everything was rammed in there was an understatement. It won’t be long until they will need a bigger venue, it’s that popular!

Not only are there loads of cakes on sale for £1 but they also have a poster stand. Some are signed by the current west end cast which have a higher price tag. Others are slightly older. I noticed a single Kinky Boots poster signed by the one and only Cyndi Lauper. They range in prices but lets face it, us theatre lovers don’t care and we know the money is going to a fabulous cause. I made a bee-line for that and managed (by some miracle) to land my hands on the very last signed Hamilton poster. I died!

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Some of the shows also sell merchandise on their cake stands which is another wonderful element. Hamilton did great by holding several auctions for signed t-shirts. From what I was hearing, each one went for about £60! In between all of these auctions I just HAD to make a donation and have a photo with the cast whilst showing of my beautiful poster! I’m trash! But, hey! It started a trend and they started taking photos with people for a small donation. All for the cause!

It wouldn’t be a bake off without having the cakes judged by some guest judges. Previous winners include 42nd Street, The Secret Garden and The Mousetrap. This year, the trio of judges were made up of Ruthie Henshall, Christopher Biggins and Wendi Peters. They had so many cakes to judge. After a difficult decision they crowned ‘Young Frankenstein’ the winner of 2018. They are now the proud owners of ‘Cuppy’! It’s such a cute trophy!

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Trophy photo credit: West End Bake Off 

It was such a great start to the weekend and I cannot wait until the next one!

Head over to West End Bake Off’s website and twitter for the latest information on this one of a kind event.

See you next year!

Theatre Maker Launch at the Cockpit Theatre

Sunday 18th February, 2018

For those not familiar with the Cockpit theatre, it is a fabulous little venue in Marylebone. It is a chameleon of a building. Used for rehearsal spaces, a main theatre auditorium with 420 seats and a bar where they host a number of different events. Whether that is presenting shows, hosting events, training days, industry events, the Cockpit is an incredibly welcoming space which cherishes new creators and their works.

They have been working on a brand new hub focusing on those making theatre. This hub will consist of classes, courses, workshops, talks and drop in session in order to aid people with new skills and to share and develop their own ideas. Various workshops will take place as well as the weekly drop in session scheduled for every Wednesday at 6pm in the bar.

In this blog I shall be giving a run down of the launch day, what went well, what I didn’t like so much and then I shall be delving into what is on offer and what taster sessions I took part in. These will be in more detail explaining exactly what we did and what you can expect to see followed by MORE information of the available course along with prices, date and time frames.

From the moment I stepped foot into the theatre I was greeted with a fabulous friendly welcome which you can always expect from the Cockpit staff. You’re always made to feel welcome there and I truly believe that this would be the best place in London to take evening classes/courses/share ideas with other creatives.

When we arrived we were given the agenda detailing everything that would be happening over the next 4/5 hours. There was also the breakdown of the taster sessions happening through the day with 3 lots of 40 minute session with 10 minute breaks.

The agenda for the morning:

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(I’ve circled the taster session I attended)

The numbers were very disappointing considering how any people had booked on. All of those people who were no shows really missed out on some great sessions.

The first session of the day was ‘From Theatre Maker to Film Maker’ led by Steve North. This was great and provided a brand new experience. Steve has had a very colourful career initially starting off in acting and has now moved into theatre making. His most recent achievement was co-writing the short film ‘Through the K-Hole’ and directed the hard winning ‘Cregan’.

His actual course is a lot longer however we had a great insight. He stripped it right back and we started looking at our own memories and how they are personal. We did a simple exercise of writing down three different memories: one from last year, one from last week and one personal memory from any point in our lives. We then paired up and had to tell the other person our memory. It was then open for them to retell that memory to us and then in the group when we all came together, stood in the dark. It was a very strange experience because these memories that had once been our own where now someone else’s. It was such a strange feeling listen to your own memory from a different person. I found myself sympathising and nodding my head as if I was sympathising with the person even though it was what I had dealt with. We did this a few time but it was a great way to see how we connect to personal stories and the benefit of focusing on a personal experience when starting to write the concept and script for a short film.

The second taster session of the day was with Sarah Fraser and focused on making theatre from scratch. Obviously this is a very broad topic and her course will delve in deeper to the whole process but it was great what we did in the session.

A little background on Sarah – she has helped create the theatre company ‘Hoax’. In 2012 she graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama with her MA in Classical Acting. From there she has worked in immersive theatre and has had a real focus on physical theatre, using voice on the body to create brand new work.

It was basically a whole game session to break the ice and make everyone feel comfortable around each other which is obviously key when working in a team which need to be very close and on the same wave-length. The improvisation game was fabulous. We were simply handed a scarf and told to run wild with one rule: the scarf could not at any point be used as a scarf. It was great to see people improvising and for others in the group to so willingly join in with ideas. Everyone was on board 110%. Sarah’s energy and passion was infectious and I strongly believe that people on this course will benefit immensely.

The third and final taster session I took part in wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. If you have read my previous blogs and review you will have noticed that I like to go into things ‘blind’. Without knowing the story/previous reviews/or reading much on the theatre website so I did not read into each of the different taster sessions. I simply turned up on the day and selected whatever sounded interesting to me. This was the ‘making theatre using visual and physical techniques’ session led by Miriam King.

For some reason I was expecting it to be very heavily focused on props and scenery and other ways of presenting the story on stage. I was very wrong. Miriam specialises in physical movement and how that tells the story. The exercise we did was very beneficial in understanding how to ground ourselves and move into a neutral state. This would be perfect for actors when transforming into drastically different characters from their normal selves however I did struggle to connect and enjoy it. I know that sounds really harsh but it just wasn’t something I enjoy. Miriam is very experienced and really puts the whole of herself into her teachings.

Before I knew it the taster sessions where over and it was time to watch the performance of ‘The Silent Stream’ which was written and performed by Jonathan Brown.

This was definitely not my type of theatre. I started drifting into my theatre reviewer state (not that I was there to review the performance). We saw this performance as Jonathan Brown runs the ‘Making theatre as a solo performer’ course which will be running as part of Theatre Maker. Having read up on the one man show since I have seen it, I do believe that there is greatness behind it. Especially as its has sequels entitled “Betsy: Wisdom of a Brighton Whore” (a one woman show) and “The Well” (ensemble piece). I would be intrigued to see these pieces now. I found the performance of ‘The Silent Stream’ to be very slow. It seemed to be a little all over the place and was very hard to follow. I personally feel that it would work better as an ensemble piece. This might help it flow better especially when two or more characters are presented at once on stage. What I saw definitely had potential though.

Anyway, this isn’t a review on that show, its a write up on the whole ‘Theatre Maker’ launch day experience! I really enjoyed it from the start. I have to admit ‘the Silent Stream’ was the only let down. It didn’t advertise the course in the best way and I think a lot of people were lacking enthusiasm by that point. From the taster sessions I have seen, I really do have high hopes for what the Cockpit have planned.

Below I shall include all the information you will need about the different courses, prices, time frames, and dates as well as links to the cockpit so you can keep up to date with all of their latest information and for the possibility to attend any future taster sessions.

The classes which will be offered area:

For more information on Theatre Maker at the Cockpit: http://thecockpit.org.uk/Theatremaker

Follow the Cockpit on twitter for all of the latest information: https://twitter.com/cockpittheatre

Thank you or reading this far! Here is a little reward – If you book onto a course before 6pm Monday 26th February, 2018 you can take full advantage of the one-off launch day code ‘INVOLVED18’ to get 15% off! You’re welcome!

Life is too short. Take the chance and make captivating theatre!

Eugenius! – REVIEW

Eugenius!

The Other Palace, London

★★★★

Eugenius!

The Other Palace, London

 

Seen on January 31st, 2018

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★

Eugenius has returned to London after a stellar run last year at the London Palladium. This time it has taken up residence in the much smaller venue, The Other Palace. Complete 80s pop culture over-load, Eugene (Liam Forde) is a teenager. More importantly a geek ridiculed by the world. His world. High school. His safety being the creation of comic book superheroes. From a small hobby, Eugene is shot straight to Hollywood as his idea takes off but reveals struggles along the way maintaining the art and true friendships. Sometimes the fictional world can be a lot realer than it seems.

It was such a fun show to watch! Everything about it had energy. It’s not the best thing that I have seen but I can understand why so many people love it. The majority of the music is incredibly catchy with a variety of different music styles from 80s pop to the standard love ballads to more comical numbers. I have to be completely honest and say that the closing number has been stuck in my head since I left the theatre. “GO EUGENIUS!! Go Eugene!” The whole soundtrack was very upbeat and enjoyable but I don’t feel it would be a soundtrack that I would be able to listen to fully outside of the show. The odd feel-good songs have now been added to my ‘morning motivation’ playlist. The rest would be enjoyed if I saw the show again.

I rather enjoyed the choreography although I found that it lost its full potential due to the stage size. This production would suit a larger stage. It all just felt a tad crowded but they made what they had work.

The script for certain characters was great, especially for Ferris (Daniel Buckley). I did not expect half the things he said which made it so much funnier. The rest of it was rather mediocre and I did find myself willing the next number to start. None of it was irrelevant, just a little slow.

I don’t like doing this part simply because the whole cast were great, we have a standout performer – Laura Baldwin (Janey) was fabulous. He voice is so petite yet so very powerful and she really got to demonstrate that. I spent so long trying to work out what I’d seen her in before. It turns out it was ‘Little Beasts‘! She presented such a caring glow about Janey which was lovely to watch.

It was wonderful seeing all the characters so drastically different! A camp Hollywood talent scout (Theo, Scott Paige). A guy who has to be at the top of the food chain with everybody  kissing his ass (Lex, Cameron Blackely). Somebody born to flaunt her ‘assets’ (Carrie, Melissa James). With the exception of a chameleon of ensemble members (Alison Arnopp, Jacob Fisher, Alex Tranter, Luke Dowling, Frances Dee, Chloe chambers and Rosie Heath)

Overall, I really enjoyed the evening however I can’t help but feel something was missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It was missing its wow factor. Despite this, Eugenius is definitely a show to bring back nostalgia for people who grew up in that decade with hilarious references! However people not of that generation will also understand the vast majority of the references too! It will be enjoyed by all (12+)

You can find Eugenius at The Other Palace until March 3rd. For more information on the show and tickets please visit https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk/whats-on/eugenius

#GOEUGENIUS

The Believers are but Brothers – REVIEW

The Believers are but Brothers

Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush, London

★★★★★

The Believers are but Brothers

Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush, London

Seen on January 31st, 2018

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★★

This unique one-man show provides a hard hitting take on the social world in which we currently live in. Touching on topics such as terrorism, politics and resentment this performance is thought provoking from the onset. Even before entering the theatre, from just reading the programme, the cogs in my brain were set into motion. The main focus of this show is how three resented men from different walks of life with access to the internet rapidly have their lives changed to accommodate a radical point of view.

(DISCLAIMER – a lot will be revealed in this review so if you are wanting to see the show without any prior knowledge I recommend you stop reading. However if you don’t mind and are still intrigued, please continue reading!) 

Let’s start off by saying this is unlike anything I have ever seen and unlike anything currently out there, 100% with the times and so relevant. It was a slight shock walking into the theatre and hearing the words ‘would you like to join our WhatsApp group to use during the performance?’. This is a unique part of this performance which really added to the topic. It emphasised the fact that everyone is in immediate connection and despite being in a room of say 50-odd people, we were all still completely anonymous. The only identification we had was the first name that would appear on the WhatsApp message if we decided to send one. That was really hard hitting for me, personally. The anonymity of everyone in the room was really felt when we were all asked to message the strangest thing we had seen on the internet. That brought up some strange things! I have to admit that at some points having the WhatsApp messages coming through was slightly distracting and I struggled focusing on what Javaad Alipoor was saying. With the messages coming through it was so difficult to determine what was real and what was scripted which demonstrated the world of fantasy and reality online.

The whole performance was so engaging. It felt like I was watching a documentary. I definitely came out feeling different in a strange way and with a changed view on the social media world. It was an education I believe everybody needs in relation to some of the topics it touched on regarding the type of information you put out online and the repercussion that may have. I do love a good piece that makes you think.

The show itself was very basic. Very raw. It was scripted but the way Javaad delivered the script made it feel like he was having a genuine conversation with you about something he is truly passionate about. There were no elaborate sets (although the set was very pleasing to look at), no extravagant lighting used. Just Javaad on a stage with a desk, a few computers, a microphone and a mesh screen for the projected images. That was another great aspect, having the media displayed in different ways. It wasn’t just an hour of Javaad talking at you.

This is one I would highly recommend and deeply believe that everyone would take something different from the show whether or not it is something that you have an interested in. Ticket prices range from £10-£17.50 and is running until February 10th. More information can be found at https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/the-believers-are-but-brothers/

February theatre that has me excited!

February is almost here.

February is almost here. Anyone else taken a dislike to how fast January went by?!

But with a new month brings new shows to see and there are several that I am really looking forward to seeing in February!

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February holds John Thaw’s Initiative Season at the Actor’s Centre where many writers showcase their new work. One I am looking forward to and already have tickets for is ‘Jam Jars’. The talented Lily Frazer has written this one. It sounds so good! We will get to see the first act in its early production stage and then will have the opportunity to then provide feedback through a Q&A with Lily herself or via feedback cards. I love seeing new work and have high hopes for this one (No pressure, Lily! Ha!) It’ll be great to see this one develop from such a raw state. Information about ‘Jam Jars’ can be found here at https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/jam-jars

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This next one I will be mentioning has already begun previews and I technically won’t be seeing it in February but my review will be posted that month! (I’m seeing it January 31st) Eugenius will be at The Other Palace throughout next month and is one that I have been dying to see. I missed its run at London Palladium last year so had to jump on the opportunity this time round. I have only heard great things about this show! Even more so now the previews have started at The Other Palace and I keep seeing friends posting about it. Beyond excited to see it on Wednesday! Ticket and show information: https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk/whats-on/eugenius

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The Vaults Festival is also taking place over February where over 300 new shows will be showcased. I love this idea and how they are providing an opportunity for new work to be seen in a completely welcoming way. Such a variety including theatre, comedy and film. There are so many that I have my eye on. Vaults Festival will be taking place from January 24th until March 18th. All information regarding shows, dates, location and tickets can be found at https://vaultfestival.com

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From February 20th to February 24th you can catch ‘Beats on Pointe’ at The Peacock, London. This sounds epic! All the way from Australia, Masters of Choreography will be bringing their talents to the stage in the heart of London. Have you ever thought ballet and street dance could never be mixed? Two polar opposite dance styles? Wrong! They are about to demonstrate that these go hand-in-hand to provide a whole new dance experience. This is a show that I will be jumping at! Tickets available at http://peacocktheatre.com/whats-on/beats-on-pointe-masters-of-choreography/

So, those are some of the things I am excited for. What shows are you looking forward to? Let me know down below and don’t forget to give those I’ve mentioned some love! Check them out and get those tickets!

Time to see Glengarry Glen Ross

Time to see Glengarry Glen Ross

We are now approaching the final week of Glengarry Glen Ross showing at the Playhouse Theatre and if you haven’t seen this one, I would highly recommend it.

This isn’t a review of the show as I think that my opinion may be slightly bias with the number of times I have seen it.

For those of you not familiar with the show here is a little bit about it: The real estate industry can be brutal. In a tiny office in Chicago four salesmen are becoming increasingly desperate to secure leads and earn their commission. So desperate in fact they would do anything to make it happen. Everyone has the same goal: close the deal.

This is a fast pace show which takes drastic turns. I love listening to the audience’s reactions.

Considering I watch it practically every night I still laugh at the witty script. It is so quick. If I am completely honest the script won’t be for everyone. There is strong language throughout and some use of the ‘C’ word. This aside the cast are fabulous and keep it fresh and engaging. I absolutely love the chemistry on stage. Especially the way in which Stanley Townsend (Shelly Levene) and Christian Slater (Ricky Roma) bounce off of each other during act 2.

This is definitely one to see before the show closes on February 3rd. Tickets and information about the show can be found here: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/glengarry-glen-ross/playhouse-theatre/#showinfotabs=showtimes

Be sure to grab your tickets fast as this show is selling like hot cakes in it’s final week!

Top 10 Shows of 2017

Top 10 Shows of 2017

In my personal opinion, I think that 2017 has been a great year for theatre. There have been so many great shows which I have seen over the past year…and the odd few which were awful! As we are nearing the end of the year I have decided to put together a little post about the top shows that I have had the honour of seeing.

I am currently sat here going through my ticket scrapbook refreshing my mind on what I have actually seen this year alone (which is a lot!) and what ones I enjoyed and still stand out head and shoulders above the rest. The way I’m writing this is in no particular order, it’s simply what comes to mind first. I am also not writing this in the ‘traditional’ way by just listing a short description of the show. I’ve decided that I want to reveal why they stood out/meant a lot to me.

(If I have reviewed the show, the review will be linked to the title)

1. Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre

I’ve seen this one about 40 times this year alone so its a good one to start with! To be honest, I have lost track just how many times I have seen the show since it opened last November. That is embarrassing! It has just been a very special show for me. It has always had the ability to make me laugh and cry my heart out and provides 2 hours 20 minutes of pure escapism. I have relied on it heavily as therapy! It was also amazing seeing friends on stage (before cast change) and see them develop. The new cast are just as good!

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2. Tick, tick…BOOM!, Park Theatre

This show always jumps to mind. I  saw this show on a whim as I managed to get a cheap ticket and I fell in love! Jonathan Larson is a genius and creates beautiful musicals (Including Rent which pops up later on). I clearly remember going into that show feeling rather deflated with life. I left with a new fire ignited within (that sounds so cheesy!) I came out loving the show and believing that my own personal dreams are not too far out of reach.

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3. Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vaults

This was outstanding! Such an incredible immersive theatre experience and I loved every single minute of the show. My inner child was released as we all relived this iconic childhood classic.

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4. Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium

A one off concert performance of the show conducted by the one and only Jason Robert Brown! It was incredible seeing this show for the first time. Everyone was in such high spirits and you coult tell that everyone on stage was having the time of their lives. It would be great to see Honeymoon in Vegas back in the west end soon and for a longer run!

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5. Shitfaced Shakespeare, Leicester Square Theatre

This is a strange one to put on the list however I really enjoyed it (considering just how much I hate Shakespeare!). Very rarely you find a show that leaves you crying with laughter and questioning “what the f*ck have I just watched?!”.

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6. Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park

Flawless. The staging. The cast. Everything was flawless! It definitely gave me a new appreciation for the story and music. If I’d have caught it earlier in its run I could have easily seen this numerous times.

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7.  Little Beasts, The Other Palace

Considering I don’t normally see children’s theatre, I thought this was great. This was a workshop production but was already very strong. With a bit more fine tuning this could really be an amazing family show. I adored the concept of ‘what happens to naughty children?’.

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8. Rent, UK tour

If any of you saw this production you will know why I’ve put it on the list! I, like many other rent heads had waited years to see this in the UK and it finally happened. It was everything I was hoping for and so much more. The cast. The set. It was all just a little bit too much! It is the only show I cried uncontrollably through. Even leaving the theatre I was still sobbing. No show has ever had that effect on me so it was something pretty special. I saw it a couple of times on this tour and it just got better and better.

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9. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Harold Pinter Theatre

So, I don’t normally see plays (something I am hoping to change in 2018) and I wanted to see what all the hype for this show was for. I’d managed to find a relatively cheap ticket so went along. To say this play was around the 3 hour mark, it flew by. I have never been to engrossed in a show. Imelda Staunton was sensational.

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10. The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre

A very moving piece. Once again I saw this one on a whim (cheap tickets on the day!) and wasn’t really expecting much. The story was so touching. This was its first run in the west end as it is a new musical and I really hope this goes somewhere. I was beautiful and really tugged on my heart strings.

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There we go, my top 10 shows of 2017. Do you agree with this choice or are there some you’d change? Let me know in the comments believe and once again please share with friends and follow ginger in the theatre on all our social media accounts! Here’s to 2018!!

La Bohème – REVIEW

La Bohème

Trafalgar Studios 2, London

★★★★

La Bohème

Trafalgar Studios 2, London

 

Seen on December 14th, 2017

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★

All theatre nerds will know this story as the classic opera which inspired the smash hit musical ‘Rent’. For those unfamiliar with it, La Bohème is an intertwining of addiction and love both set to collide. Which will stand tall at the end? Love? Drugs?

This is a modern take on Puccini’s classic opera which is undeniably timeless. Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Becca Marriott have created a brand new retelling of the story which made me laugh and cry.

I’ve really wanted to see this show for a long time and seeing this brand new adaptation of it was stunning. It is so contemporary. Most certainly not a traditional opera. In my mind, an opera is this huge grand affair which lasts for hours with several acts but this is the complete opposite. I found that really refreshing.

The venue itself is so intimate. The cast don’t use any microphones because they just aren’t needed. I loved the way the intimate venue was used to the performers benefit (but more on that in a short while!)

In this version the first act is very comical. Lots of jokes thrown in referencing recent politics and news. A real bromance is seen between Mark and Ralph. The first act also really showed off the set and lighting creatives’ talent. The lighting (by Nic Farman) was great. The apartment was softly lit with several lamps adding to the soft light. Whereas the next scene in the pub was a harsh chandelier radiating yellow beams with another spot light focused on the area. It was very much the typical pub lighting you would expect. The set was also fabulous, it was distressed and mismatched but it didn’t distract your eye from the performance.

Another highlight of act 1 was the use of the audience during the pub scene. With it being such an intimate venue they really used it well. A lively vibe was created. One you’d expect in a pub during the Christmas period.

The performance itself was kept very simple and the music was also in keeping with this. Throughout the whole show it was just a pianist and cellist playing. Rather beautiful.

One song shorty into act 2 was beautiful to listen to however I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics sung. This was really difficult simply because all four actors were singing at once and no microphones were used so certain voices couldn’t be highlighted at certain times. The four voices were wonderful but when all at once, drowned each other out. As expected act 2 was incredibly emotional and Becca Marriott (Mimi) handled this so well. Mimi is a very difficult character to portray but it seemed to come so naturally to her. The other stand out performer was Honey Rouhani (Musetta). I absolutely adored her performance! She had the most ad-libs in the script as she had so much interaction with audience members during act 1. She was brilliant at this and I loved how she was so comfortable with the character she could strike up conversations with some male ‘prey’ in the audience to pass the time when her dialogue went quiet during the scene. Another thing I must say is that Matthew Kimble (Ralph) can sing to me anytime! His voice! Dreamy!

If  I were to describe this show in two words it would have to be ‘powerful’ and ’emotional’

La Bohème is booking until 6th January 2018. This is such a beautiful piece and if you get the chance, do go see it. More information on the show and tickets can be found here: http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/trafalgar-studios/ 

From The Box Office are doing a great offer currently where you can save up to 50% on tickets: https://www.fromtheboxoffice.com/city/2957-london/43OA-la-boheme/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shows%20-%20London%20Targeted&utm_term=%2Bla%20%2Bboheme%20%2Btrafalgar%20%2Bstudios&utm_content=atg_av%20La%20Boheme%2043OA