Review: Spamalot, Playhouse Theatre

 “We’re opera mad in Camelot
We sing from the diaphragm a lot”

Though Joe Pasquale may be joining the cast of Spamalot from the 17th June to play King Arthur for six weeks, I would say that now is actually a great time to go and see the show at the Playhouse Theatre, tucked away down by Embankment station. Though it may arguably lack a ‘star name’, what it does offer is an extremely strong piece of musical theatre, delivered excellently by bona fide musical theatre performers, and none more so than Robin Armstrong who makes for an utterly adorable central presence as the King of the Britons.

I only actually saw the show for the first time when it started its tour back in 2010 as since we never really watched Monty Python in our household as kids, the show held no fascination for me when it was in the West End. But its utter silliness and its determination not to take itself too seriously at all won me over and so I was more than happy to make a return visit, especially given the names that were popping up in the cast.  Continue reading “Review: Spamalot, Playhouse Theatre”

fosterIAN awards 2012

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayKate O’Flynn, LungsLaurie Metcalf, Long Day’s Journey Into NightHattie Morahan, A Doll’s House
Helen McCrory, Last of the Haussmans
Cate Blanchett, Big and Small
Sally Hawkins, Constellations
Best Actor in a PlayLuke Treadaway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeRafe Spall, ConstellationsBilly Carter, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
David Suchet, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Hugh Ross, A Life
Dominic Rowan, A Doll’s House
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayNiamh Cusack, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLaura Howard, Lost in YonkersRuth Sheen, In Basildon
Nicola Walker, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Katie Brayben, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Open Air)
Fenella Woolgar, Hedda Gabler
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayPaul Chahidi, Twelfth Night (Globe)Charles Edwards, This HouseRobin Soans, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
Rory Kinnear, Last of the Haussmans
Cyril Nri, Julius Caesar
Olly Alexander, Mercury Fur
Best Actress in a MusicalCarly Bawden, My Fair LadyJanie Dee, Hello, Dolly!Caroline O’Connor, Gypsy
Anna Francolini, Victor/Victoria
Rosalie Craig, Ragtime
Jenna Russell, Merrily We Roll Along
Best Actor in a MusicalSimon Russell Beale, Privates on ParadeMark Umbers, Merrily We Roll AlongRichard Dempsey, Victor/Victoria
Julian Ovenden, Finding Neverland
Will Young, Cabaret
Dominic West, My Fair Lady
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalClare Foster, Merrily We Roll AlongBonnie Langford, 9 to 5Josefina Gabrielle, Merrily We Roll Along
Debbie Kurup, The Bodyguard
Helena Blackman, A Winter’s Tale
Laura Pitt-Pulford, Hello, Dolly!
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalMichael Xavier, Hello, Dolly!Damian Humbley, Merrily We Roll AlongAlistair Brookshaw, A Winter’s Tale
Stuart Matthew Price, Sweet Smell of Success
Ben Kavanagh, Boy Meets Boy
Oliver Boot, Finding Neverland

2012 Best Supporting Actress in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play 

Niamh Cusack, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Though Nicola Walker was excellent as the mother in this adaptation, it was Niamh Cusack who really shone for me. Her kindly teacher also doubled as a narrator of sorts and so it was her gorgeously warm tone that steered the audience into the wonderful world of this production, alive to the sensitivities of the situation but never once veering towards the condescending (unlike certain reviewers I could name).

Honourable mention: Laura Howard, Lost in Yonkers
One of those performances that caught me right in the heart from its opening moments and never let go throughout. Neil Simon’s play can be described as a tragicomedy and whilst most of the audience were hooting with the comedy, I found myself weeping near-continuously as Howard depicted the simplicity and emotional openness of the always under-estimated Bella with huge skill.

Ruth Sheen, In Basildon
Nicola Walker, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Katie Brayben, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Fenella Woolgar, Hedda Gabler

7-10
Lucy Ellinson, The Trojan Women; Miranda Raison, The River; Laura Elphinstone, Chalet Lines; Anastasia Hille, The Effect

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Clare Foster, Merrily We Roll Along
Foster had a great year, impressing mightily in Finding Neverland at the Curve but it was as Beth in the Menier’s Merrily We Roll Along that she solidified her credentials as a genuine favourite by giving a rendition of ‘Not A Day Goes By’ that actually made me forget Bernadette Peters’. Truly special.

Honourable mention: Bonnie Langford, 9 to 5 The Musical
Langford figured strongly in my childhood as companion Mel in the first Doctor Whos I really remember watching and in Bugsy Malone too, so I can’t believe it has taken this long for me to finally see on her stage. And what a debut it was, as as secretary Roz in 9 to 5 The Musical she effortlessly steals the show with a sensational number that displays all of her considerable skillset.

Josefina Gabrielle, Merrily We Roll Along
Debbie Kurup, The Bodyguard
Helena Blackman, A Winter’s Tale
Laura Pitt-Pulford, Hello, Dolly!

7-10
Beverly Rudd, Soho Cinders; Siân Phillips, Cabaret; Lucy Van Gasse, Wonderful Town; Aimie Atkinson, Steel Pier

Review: 9 to 5 The Musical, New Wimbledon Theatre

“It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it”

With a score that incorporates both songs from her back catalogue and newly penned numbers by Dolly Parton and a book from Patricia Resnick, one of the co-writers of the film on which it based which also featured Parton’s screen debut, there was little danger of 9 to 5 The Musical ever veering too far from the template which saw it become a cinematic success. But though its crowd-pleasing adherence to the film brings a definite feel-good factor, which is best characterised by the effervescent opening rendition of the title song, it also imposes limits on just how successful a piece of musical theatre it can be.  

It’s 1979 and the office of Consolidated Companies, typical of most workplaces at the time, is a bearpit for the female of the species. But the tide is changing and as three women in this particular environment come together in the face of sexist adversity and an inadvertent deployment of some rat poison, an alternative way of running the company springs to mind and suggests that the future might not be so grim after all.  Continue reading “Review: 9 to 5 The Musical, New Wimbledon Theatre”