Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 3

Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Emma Hatton and Laura Pick have a wicked time in the rain at the West End Musical Drive In

“Are you here to distract me
So I make a big mistake?”

The third instalment of the West End Musical Drive In’s streaming offer (reviews of episode 1 and episode 2) sees them land with a Wicked focus, spotlighting four current and recent members of the West End cast, along with a cheeky guest appearance from Carl Man. So it was Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Emma Hatton and Laura Pick taking their individual moments to shine in the pouring rain of a Great British summer.

As with the first, co-producer Shanay Holmes acted as MC with an ever-impressive amount of energy and also taking the opportunity to show off her mighty fine vocals with a song or two herself (the closing ‘One Night Only’ is standout). And over an hour and 40 minutes or so, we’re treated to a range of musical theatre classics from some pretty powerhouse vocalists. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 3”

News: updates for Frozen in the West End.

With so much uncertainty still blighting the West End, Frozen the Musical has announced that it is taking tickets offsale and postponing its premiere until a new timetable can be confirmed. But to sweeten the pill, they’ve also revealed the final members of their company.

Chris Fung and Kerry Spark will join the already announced cast, led by Samantha Barks (Elsa) and Stephanie McKeon (Anna), as well as Obioma Ugoala (Kristoff), Craig Gallivan (Olaf), Oliver Ormson (Hans), Richard Frame (Weselton), and alternating the role of Sven, Mikayla Jade and Ashley Birchall. Continue reading “News: updates for Frozen in the West End.”

News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed

Comedian, actor and singer Jason Manford is to host The Royal Variety Performance at the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will deliver a special message to the charity and the artistes performing in the show, as he looks forward to this exceptional evening of entertainment.

Returning to the North after nine years, the show promises to be an unforgettable evening of exceptional performers, world class British theatre and superb comedy, plus some exciting surprises. Continue reading “News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed”

Album Review: Frozen 2 / Hello Again / Chicago

The release of Frozen 2 (2019 Film Soundtrack), sends me off to a couple of other film soundtracks I’ve been meaning to review in Hello Again (2017 Film Soundtrack) and Chicago (2002 Film Soundtrack)

“Are you the one I’ve been looking for
All of my life?”

Possibly the album that is most wanted by kids and most feared by parents is the soundtrack to the forthcoming Frozen 2. Musical supremos Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez return in fine form with a suite of songs that suggest quite the emotional journey for the film and one which could be too sad for even me to cope with. In that respect, Kristen Bell’s griefstricken ‘The Next Right Thing’ scares me but it is gorgeously done. ‘Into the Unknown’ with its daring intervals and Aurora’s ethereal supplemental vocals seems like the song most identified to replicate ‘Let It Go’ enormous success but it is the dramatic swoops of ‘Show Yourself’ that I think Idina Menzel shines best on, along with Evan Rachel Wood. Wood’s delicate ‘All is Found’ speaks to the film’s core mysteries and Jonathan Groff finally gets a song with the amusing 80s-inflected ‘Lost In The Woods’. Continue reading “Album Review: Frozen 2 / Hello Again / Chicago”

Album Review: Jon Robyns – Musical Direction

I’ve long admired Jon Robyns and his new album Musical Direction reflects on his career so far beautifully, as well as suggesting what fun lies ahead

“You can get what you want or you get old”

Having fallen in love with Jon Robyns in parallel with tumbling hard for Avenue Q, he really is the leading man of my (entirely platonic) dreams, so news of a new solo album was certainly up my strasse. And Musical Direction manages an excellent job of balancing many of the aspects of that come with musical theatre performers making their own recordings.

There are nods to his performance past – a chirpy take on The Last Five Years’ ‘Moving Too Fast’ and a delicately beautiful glide through Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Hushabye Mountain  – and a perfectly timed look to the future too. And this is where the cleverness kicks in as you may not think you really need another version of ‘Bring Him Home’ but this acoustic, cello-drenched arrangement is spine-tingling good, certainly whetting the appetite for his imminent debut as Jean Valjean when Les Misérables reopens the Sondheim Theatre. Continue reading “Album Review: Jon Robyns – Musical Direction”

Album Reviews: Ramin Karimloo – From Now On / Josh Piterman – Josh Piterman

A pair of album reviews from Phantoms past and present – Ramin Karimloo’s latest From Now On and new leading man Josh Piterman’s Josh Piterman

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

Ramin Karimloo’s recording career has always been an interesting one to track, as he oscillates between the musical theatre in which he has made quite the name and the musical influences that clearly lie closest to his heart. His latest full-length album From Now On encapsulates this perfectly right from the off, using his patented Broadgrass style to illuminate The Greatest Showman’s ‘From Now On’ to glorious effect.

The tracklisting sees him dabble in musicals old and new – he makes a good case for King George in an uplifting ‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen’s ‘Waving Through a Window’ builds the already fever-pitch anticipation for its London opening. And they’re matched by a straightforward canter through Rent’s ‘What You Own’ and Hedwig’s achingly good ‘Wicked Little Town’ which balance his interpretative skill with his unmatched vocal strength. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Ramin Karimloo – From Now On / Josh Piterman – Josh Piterman”

Review: Avenue Q, New Wimbledon Theatre

This Sell A Door tour of the excellent puppet musical Avenue Q shows just how well it is standing the test of time

“You should be much more careful when you’re talking about the sensitive subject of race”

I do love Avenue Q. It was one of the first musicals that I fell in love with after moving to London, tracking it throughout its West End-theatre hopping run with multiple visits (a recap can be found here) and then popping in here and there to catch the occasional touring version. And it is a show to which my reactions have shifted: 13 years ago when I first saw it, its quarter-life crisis was directly recognisable; a little way down the line now, I’m the one saying ‘these kids are so much younger than me’ about this youthful company!

Premiering in 2003, the show – music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty – benefited hugely from coming into life in a slightly more innocent pre-social media time, a moment when Generation X didn’t face half as much opprobrium as millennia are forced to shoulder nowadays. And revisiting the show now, as this Sell A Door production kicks off a major UK tour scheduled to last most of the year, it is just lovely to be reminded of simpler times, of such uncomplicated good feeling. Continue reading “Review: Avenue Q, New Wimbledon Theatre”