A film version of musical hit Dear Evan Hansen with original Broadway star Ben Platt at the helm proves to be a huge mis-step
“Can we try to have an optimistic outlook, huh?
Oh dear, it really wasn’t meant to be like this. Ben Platt has been intimately involved with Dear Evan Hansen since the start, taking part in every reading of the show through its eventual Tony-winning run on Broadway. So in some ways he’s the perfect guy to star in this cinematic adaptation, which just happens to be produced by his father, among others. But Platt is now in his late 20s, pushing at the limits to play a high-schooler, something director Stephen Chbosky acknowledges a little too blatantly with an almost Frankenstein-like treatment of prosthetics, make-up and filters that make him look like an android.
The other major problem is that this is a full-on adaptation of the musical, snatching us away from the suspension of disbelief of the stage to the harsh realities of a US high school drama. And without the fantastical flights of fancy that accompany the show’s theatrical journey – the transportative magic of Pasek and Paul’s soaring score, the ingenuity of David Korins’ digital-inspired set design – we’re left examining Steven Levenson’s reworking of his own book with much greater scrutiny and I’m really not sure that its use of suicide and mental health hold muster in this IRL context. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 10 – Dear Evan Hansen (2021)”
The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its streaming platform, National Theatre at Home. Launching today are two National Theatre productions: Hansard, Simon Woods’ witty and devastating play, directed by Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night); and Treasure Island, adapted by Bryony Lavery (Frozen, Kursk) from the iconic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Polly Findlay (Antigone, Beginning). New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 28 productions available to stream on the platform. Continue reading “The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home”
Staged in celebration of the story’s 50th anniversary of publication, David Greig and Charlie Fink’s Olivier Award-nominated adaptation of The Lorax will be inventively transformed for OLD VIC: IN CAMERA into a semi-staged pint-size version to keep young (and older) minds entertained, enchanted and empowered with its central message of protecting the planet.
The cast includes Audrey Brisson, Richard Katz, Melanie La Barrie, David Ricardo-Pearce, Ben Thompson, Jamael Westman and Silas Wyatt-Barke. Should you be so inclined, you can read both of my rhyming reviews for the previous productions of the show here and here.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax will be streamed live from The Old Vic stage this Easter from 14th–17th April. All performances will offer audio description and captioning.
During this unprecedented time which has seen the closure of theatres, cinemas and schools, the National Theatre today announces new initiative National Theatre at Home providing access to content online to serve audiences in their homes. Audiences around the world can stream NT Live productions for free via YouTube, and students and teachers have access to the National Theatre Collection at home, delivered in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing.
From Thursday 2 April, a number of productions previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live will be made available to watch via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel. The first production to be broadcast as part of National Theatre at Home will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden. Each production will be free and screened live every Thursday at 7.00pm GMT, it will then be available on demand for seven days. Alongside the streamed productions, National Theatre at Home will also feature accompanying interactive content such as Q&As with cast and creative teams and post-stream talks, with further details of this programme to be announced.
Working closely with YouTube, other productions streamed as part of National Theatre at Home include:
Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre on the 9th April,
Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island on 16th April, and
Twelfth Night on the 23rd April featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia in Shakespeare’s classic comedy, with further titles to be announced. What would you like to see added to the programme?
One Man Two Guvnors – Johan Persson
Jane Eyre – Manuel Harlan
Treasure Island – Johan Persson
Twelfth Night – Marc Brenner
Some seriously big names – David Walliams and Robbie Williams – can’t save the RSC’s new musical The Boy in the Dress at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
“Don’t eat my cheese”
There’s no lacking for big names behind the RSC’s big new musical The Boy in the Dress. Based on the novel by David Walliams and adapted by Mark Ravenhill, and with a score by Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers and Chris Heath, the pedigree is certainly there in this story about Dennis, a young football-crazy boy who decides, one day, that he’d quite like to go to school wearing a dress. But Gregory Doran’s production ends up hitting the crossbar – literally so… – and it is a little difficult to work out exactly why.
Is it in Walliams’ book, where absent mothers get entirely short shrift (as do most women, the character of Darvesh’s mum, who even gets a song, is called…Darvesh’s mum) and notions about celebrating difference only go so far – it’s OK for boys to wear dresses and win football matches, but if you buy a copy of Vogue, then you’re the target for homophobic jokes in the script. Or is it in the score which is full of strangely low-impact numbers, until an Indian man appears – cue the Bollywood song! Or someone puts on a dress – cue the disco number! It can feel that there’s not much sophistication at work here. Continue reading “Review: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre”
Two winters ago if you went to the Old Vic,
Your life would have been filled with something fantastic.
A musical treat fit for all of the fam’ly,
The Lorax is as good as such a show could be.
Returning for half-term with some new cast members,
The musical’s just as good as I remember.
It’s heartfelt and funny and really quite moving,
A powerful message but not too reproving. Continue reading “Re-review: The Lorax, Old Vic”
If Dr Seuss stories are what makes you tick,
Then this Christmastime you should hit the Old Vic.
The Lorax adapted by scribe David Greig
is so damn delightful for tickets you’ll beg.
Director Max Webster has served up a treat
with such charm no panto could ever compete.
A show for all ages, it’s also a musical,
I had my doubts but it’s something quite beautiful. Continue reading “Review: The Lorax, Old Vic”
“No… it can’t be… is it gravity I am feeling?”
It’s been a goodly time coming, just over two years since it opened actually, but the Original Cast Recording of The Light Princess is finally here. Finely crafted by writers Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson with the original cast from the National Theatre production and recorded entirely under studio conditions, this double CD a triumphant achievement. It simultaneously acts as a perfect tribute to a much-loved show (one I saw five times during its too-short run #1, #2, #3, #4, #5), it also advances the score, refining its musicality into a more intense yet accessible experience.
Right from the opening bars of the ‘Prologue: Once Upon A Time’, Katherine Rockhill’s piano playing sounds amazing and is rightfully forefronted here as the cornerstone of Amos’ wide-ranging compositions, the lushness of the strings sound pretty special too. And with Rosalie Craig’s astonishing performance as Althea – the light princess herself – liberated from the constraints of this most physically demanding of roles (both for her and for us too, goggling at the inventiveness with which her floating was essayed), her vocal interpretation deepens into something even more affecting, impossible as it may seem to anyone who saw her amazing work onstage. Continue reading “Album Review: The Light Princess (Original Cast Recording)”
“Thanks for all the pies and adventures”
The big family-oriented show at the National Theatre this winter is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (though as it runs in rep right through to April, one hopes Spring will have sprung by then) which has been adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery. But whilst Polly Findlay’s production has some very definite plus points, not least in an inspired design by Lizzie Clachan which utilises so much of the Olivier’s potential, it doesn’t quite have the full shiver-me-timbers factor to make it an undoubted success.
Clachan frames the theatre’s large revolving drum with a set of lowering curved ribs which suggest all kinds of mystical maritime adventures – the frame of a trusty ship, the ribcage of a giant whale, the quivering trees of a strange island. Deep in the revolve is where the real treasure is though, a warren of cabins that reflect the social hierarchy of the time and later on the maze of tunnels in which the gold can be found. Combined with the sensational starry skyscape up above, Bruno Poet’s lighting looking stunning, this is the National doing what it does so well. Continue reading “Review: Treasure Island, National Theatre”
“See these tears flow, this H2O”
There’s not really much more to say than to bid a fond farewell to this most beloved of shows. Despite the fierce love it engendered in its devoted fans, I personally don’t think a transfer would have necessarily worked so well. There’s something wonderfully neat about The Light Princess’ life at the Lyttelton, the length and nature of its run in rep meaning that Rosalie Craig was able to make every single performance – an impressive feat even before one touches on the extraordinary demands of the lead role. And getting to see the final show, with a large group of people who had been equally (if not more) touched by the work – and that includes the extraordinary cast and company, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much visible emotion at the end of a run – was a genuine privilege.
Since the show shone so brightly, yet so briefly, it has left the kind of indelible impression that will be impossible to shift. I saw it five times in total – you can read about visits one, two, three and four – and each time, it surprised me, its densely complex nature revealing something new each time with different musical motifs becoming prominent, the various themes shifting in emphasis, the texture of the show almost malleable in its changeability. So now we have to wait for the soundtrack and dream of once upon a once a, once upon a time.
“What you have done, has brightened the world”