Review: Pippin, Charing Cross Theatre

Steven Dexter’s production of Pippin transfers to the Charing Cross Theatre with some nifty choreography

“I don’t know anything about ducks”

I was low-key obsessed with Godspell as a kid, a production at the school where one or other of my parents worked winning me over to its charms early on. But Pippin, also written by Stephen Schwartz one year on in 1972, entirely passed me by and even as a grown-up kid, it isn’t a show that has ever won me over either time I’ve seen it.

Hence I gave Steven Dexter’s boutique production a miss when it opened in chilly English summer evenings at the Garden Theatre last year but now that it has resurfaced indoors at the Charing Cross Theatre, I gave it a go. Here, a strong cast give it their all with some nifty choreography but my heart remains untouched. Continue reading “Review: Pippin, Charing Cross Theatre”

News: West End musical castings confirmed

The thought of outdoors theatre was fine earlier this week, not so much right now! For the brave, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have confirmed full casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which plays 31 July – 25 September. Joining the already announced Carly Bawden (Julie Jordan), Declan Bennett (Billy Bigelow), John Pfumojena (Enoch Snow), Joanna Riding (Nettie Fowler) and Natasha May Thomas (Louise Bigelow) are Brendan Charleson (Mr Bascombe), Jo Eaton-Kent (Mrs Mullin), Sam Mackay (Jigger Craigin), Ediz Mahmut (Young Enoch) and Christina Modestou (Carrie Pipperidge).

The ensemble includes: Chanelle AnthonyCraig ArmstrongWilliam AtkinsonShay BarclaySarah BenbelaidMadeline CharlemagneFreya FieldSebastian GoffinAmie HibbertTim HodgesLukas Hunt, Tessa KadlerLindsay McAllisterMatthew McKennaJack MitchellCharlotte RibyLisa Ritchie and Daisy West. Continue reading “News: West End musical castings confirmed”

Review: Monday Night at the Apollo #2

The second Monday Night at the Apollo showcases the marvellous skills of Shan Ako, Sophie Evans, Arthur Darvill, Sandra Marvin & Jamie Muscato

“A few stolen moments is all that we share”

After a highly successful opening show, Monday Night at the Apollo returns for a second instalment with its genre-busting tracklisting. Hosted by the ever-chirpy Greg Barnett, this concert featured Shan Ako, Sophie Evans, Arthur Darvill, Sandra Marvin and Jamie Muscato subbing in for an unavailable Oli Tompsett.

Fresh from rehearsals for the Old Vic’s Bagdad Cafe, Sandra Marvin was probably my MVP. Impressing with jazz standard ‘Hit me with your high notes’ and a similarly laidback saunter through Whitney’s ‘Saving All My Love For You’, by the time she moved onto Hairspray, she had the audience eating from her palm. Continue reading “Review: Monday Night at the Apollo #2”

Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium

Celebrating his 40th birthday in quite some style and with quite the guest list, Lee Mead at the London Palladium made for a great night

“I’ll make you so sure about it”

I spent my 40th birthday eating as many Michelin-starred meals as I could hoodwink people into treating me to but being a much more genial sort, Lee Mead celebrated his by making a long-awaited return to live performance. Lee Mead at the London Palladium was his first concert in 18 months and in some ways, it was almost worth the wait.

With time on his hands, he has been able to come up with a beautifully balanced setlist with MD Adam Dennis. One which pays tribute to the shows that have made his career thus far, one reflects songs that have inspired him but above all, one which demonstrates love. Love for music, love for his friends and family, love for the act of performing to which he is so clearly accustomed. Continue reading “Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium”

Review: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre

Ben Forster, Alice Fearn, Sophie Evans, Layton Williams, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Shanay Holmes join forces for a West End Musical Celebration at the Palace Theatre

“There’s a party to start in a new part of town”

Brought to you by the producers of West End Musical Drive In and West End Musical Brunch, West End Musical Celebration sees the collaborative, communal, concert spirit finally brought into a bona fide West End space in Palace Theatre.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but nor does it pretend or need to. Pulling together a top tier company including Alice Fearn, Layton Williams, Rachel John and Trevor Dion Nicholas and giving them some of the best showstoppers around, you can hardly go wrong. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre”

Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online

Featuring 18 West End musicals, The Show Must Go On is a concert to remember, featuring a whole host of theatrical talent both on and off the stage

“Just like Dolly Levi, we are back where we belong”

Showcasing 18 West End musicals that are reopening soon or in some cases, have already reopened, The Show Must Go On is a celebratory concert, gathering together so much on- and off-stage theatrical talent in aid of Acting for Others and Fleabag Support Fund.

With Bonnie Langford and Trevor Dion Nicholas hosting and gamely working their way through a multitude of rapid-fire show descriptions, the real MVPs of the night were the orchestra, under Stuart Morley’s direction, and the choir, made up of recent graduates, who enthusiastically put their voices to any number of harmonised accompaniments. Continue reading “Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 4

The West End Musical Drive In‘s fourth instalment sees cast members from Aladdin getting us to honk our horns

“Miss rona hasn’t stopped us from gathering here, in a car park, to celebrate musical theatre”

The latest digital visit to the West End Musical Drive In sees us catch a concert featuring three performers connected through their performances in productions of Aladdin. Matt Croke, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Hiba Elchikhe gather here for one of the more fun concerts in this series, with duets aplenty but a slight issue with the format does begin to arise.

Within the first 20 minutes, we’ve already heard two songs that have been performed in previous shows in this series (see reviews of episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3). It’s not the end of the world by any means, and arguably this version of ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ is a stonker, but it is perhaps something to be considered by the creators as these gratefully-received online options are explored. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 4”

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”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 2

Featuring the many queens of SIX, Episode 2 of the West End Musical Drive In is a powerful collection of musical theatre performances

“I remember that night I just might”

The first instalment of the West End Musical Drive In impressed me with its raw urgency, a timely reminder of the power of 100% live vocals and the breadth of musical theatre talent that we have in this country. So it is great that the folks behind West End Musical Brunch are continuing to release more of the drive-in concerts that they hosted last summer.

This week’s episode brings together 11 of the performers from various casts of the musical Six and with such a greater number of singers, the programming is certainly eclectic and ultimately does feel a little bit scattershot in its choices, lacking a little of the thematic unity that marked out last week’s showcase. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 2”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 1

This capture of last summer’s West End Musical Drive In delivers much of the thrill of live performance, with Shan Ako and Layton Williams in particularly fine form

“Honk your horns”

Last summer saw the team behind the West End Musical Brunch pivot within the constrictions of social distancing to create the West End Musical Drive In concert series. And with great consideration for those of us who don’t drive, the shows were filmed and five of them are now being streamed on a weekly basis via Stream.Theatre.

Layton Williams is the headliner for this show and it is is not hard to see why. Supported by an ensemble from the forthcoming tour of Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, he struts with outrageous levels of charisma and fashion-forward thinking through numbers from that show, Kinky Boots, Rent and much more besides. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 1”