Review: Never Give Up On A Dream

Some of the cast of Pretty Woman reunite for this Thespie Reunited concert Never Give Up On A Dream

“It’s a hard winter’s day
I dream away”

With Aimie Atkinson as their creative producer, it is perhaps little surprise that Thespie’s Reunited series has a Pretty Woman the Musical special leading its programming into the new year. But no-one should begrudge them that and Never Give Up On A Dream has much to commend it. 

I can’t lie, Pretty Woman the Musical did not do it for me but this show opens up the pop songbook far and wide to take in the likes of Roxette (‘It Must Have Been Love’, natch), Queen (a fiery group ‘Somebody to Love’) and Tony Bennett (Bob Harms in spine-tingling form on ‘Who Can I Turn To’). Continue reading “Review: Never Give Up On A Dream”

Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre

If you’re feeling festive and missing musical theatre, then All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre is the place to be

“But it’s not like Christmas at all
I remember when you were here”

Thespie’s Reunited series has been a fun way of getting your musicals fix over the past few weeks and in a rather clever move, they’ve managed to put together a Christmas special featuring the companies already featured, plus some brand new special guests. So All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre so we get to see Team Schwartz and Team Girl Power again and my personal faves, Team Juliet as they tackle a range of festive classics.

For me though, it was the promise of concerts to come that proved most exciting. The tight harmonies of Heathers alumni Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams were a particular delight on both ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ and the women of Pretty Woman are in wonderfully high spirits on both ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Santa Baby’ so consider my appetite whetted for their forthcoming gigs. Continue reading “Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre”

The winners of the 9th annual Mousetrap Awards

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER AWARD:

WINNER – Laura Baldwin, as Dawn in Waitress
Sophie Evans, as Glinda in Wicked
Leah Harvey, as Hortense in Small Island
Miriam-Teak Lee, as Juliet in & Juliet

BEST MALE PERFORMER AWARD:

WINNER – David Hunter, as Dr Pomatter in Waitress
Laurie Kynaston, as Nicolas in The Son
Wendell Pierce, as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman
Jac Yarrow, as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Continue reading “The winners of the 9th annual Mousetrap Awards”

Lockdown theatre review: Jesus Christ Superstar (2012 Arena Tour)

Jesus Christ Superstar takes to the “rock’n’roll” arena. It isn’t good.

“Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.”

Amidst the deluge of theatrical content emerging online, it can be quite hard to make decisions about what to actually watch. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s release of the 2012 live arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar stood out for me as though I did go and see it at the O2, we were seated at the back of the cavernous space and so the opportunity to actually see what happened on the actors’ faces was enough to tempt me. Plus it’s Good Friday…

Pre-dating the Open Air Theatre’s revelatory restaging by three years, Laurence Connor’s restaging of ALW’s 1971 rock opera lays its contemporary allusions thickly (Occupy, Guantánamo, reality TV) but right from the start, you can see how superficial it is. A busy prologue full of kinetic energy references the Occupy movement strongly but as soon as the show proper starts, it’s as if it never happens, you could cut it and never know the difference.

Continue reading “Lockdown theatre review: Jesus Christ Superstar (2012 Arena Tour)”

Review: Pretty Woman – the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre

Aiimie Atkinson is good but deserves far better than Pretty Woman: the Musical, the blatant cash grab at the Piccadilly Theatre

“Somebody pinch me, this can’t be true”

The publicity for Pretty Woman – the Musical invites, nay begs, you to invoke one of the movie’s iconic catchphrases so let’s have it. Mounting a show in 2020 in which the only roles for women are prostitutes or bitches? Big mistake. Huge. Charging £175 to sit on your front row? Big mistake. Huge. Encouraging the use of a grand piano for anything besides playing? Big mistake. Huge.  

The 1990 film directed by Garry Marshall from J F Lawton’s screenplay scored massive success for a rom-com but much like Grease, it is hard to view the story with a contemporary lens. Determined to view itself as a fairytale (of sorts), it takes the worlds of asset stripping and sex work and whisks them together without taking anything seriously. And Marshall and Lawton’s book for this musical adaptation does the same except with added songs by Bryan Adams (yes, that one) and Jim Vallance. Continue reading “Review: Pretty Woman – the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre”

Nominees for the 9th annual Mousetrap Awards

The nominees for the 9th annual Mousetrap Awards are announced

These awards are voted for by young people, anyone aged 15-29 is invited to have their say as to who should pick up the trophies at the ceremony on Sunday 19th April. And while usual suspects Dear Evan HansenWaitress and & Juliet are leading the pack, it is nice to see such love for Small Island here too.

Mousetrap Theatre Projects strive to make London’s theatre scene accessible to young people, low-income families, mainstream and SEND state schools, and those with additional needs.

Voting is open until midnight on 23rd March via this link. Continue reading “Nominees for the 9th annual Mousetrap Awards”

Review: Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre

The highly anticipated musical Come From Away leaves me dry-eyed at the Phoenix Theatre despite a very strong cast

“There’s nothing to do, nothing to see
Thank god we stopped at the duty-free”

I didn’t check the merchandise stand at Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s Come From Away but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were seeing branded tissues, such is the weight of expectation that comes with this musical, set in the days after 9/11. But rather than New York, the show is set more than 2,000 kilometres away in the remote town of Gander, Newfoundland, where 38 planes with 6,579 passengers were grounded in the aftermath of the attacks. 

There, in a Canadian town that practically doubled in population overnight, we witness the unfolding of a tragedy but more significantly, the response of a community willing and able to do anything to extend the hand of friendship. Doors are flung open, shoulders proffered, bottles opened, an unquestioned barrage of hospitality seeking to envelop traumatised passengers who had been trapped for hours on their planes (in a pre-social media age remember), only to be released to find out the terrible news. Continue reading “Review: Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre”

Review: Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange

“Life will be frozen peaches and cream”

 
I’ve seen a couple of comments questioning whether Sweet Charity is an appropriate choice for the Royal Exchange’s festive musical – I assume they avoided last year’s Into the Woods and the year before’s Little Shop of Horrors, neither show hardly known for their jazz hands and perma-smiles. For the joy of great musical theatre, of any theatre, is when it can find shades of darkness and light in its storytelling, finding a way to reflect the richness of life in its downs as well as its ups.

Director Derek Bond (whose Little Shop… remains a stunning high point) acknowledges all of the problems inherent in Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields’ tale of a dancer, the titular Charity Hope Valentine, and her repeated, desperate lack of luck in her romantic life and through his interpretation and the directness of Aletta Collins’ choreography, also takes it seriously. Anchored by a properly star-making and heart-breaking performance from Kaisa Hammarlund, it just works. Continue reading “Review: Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange”

Review: Jackie the Musical, Churchill Bromley

“Jackie – a woman of a certain age”

I don’t remember reading my big sister’s copies of Jackie, nor could I say I’ve ever knowingly listened to a David Cassidy or a David Essex song. So I’m perhaps not directly in the target audience for Jackie the Musical, a 70s jukebox show that takes inspiration from the pages of that weekly magazine for teenage girls. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to be enjoyed by all but rather that this is a very particular kind of nostalgia. 

Janet Dibley’s Jackie is picking through the pieces of her life – in her 50s, about to be divorced, teenage dropout son – when she comes across a stash of paraphernalia from her girlhood in the attic. Old schoolbooks are soon discarded though when she finds some old copies of Jackie (the magazine) and as this is Jackie (the musical), a younger version of Jackie (the woman) manifests itself in her mind, to act as a kind of spirit guide through this time of emotional turbulence as she dips a toe into the world of online dating, aided by sparky best friend Jill, an excellent Lori Haley Fox.  Continue reading “Review: Jackie the Musical, Churchill Bromley”