Lockdown theatre review: Jesus Christ Superstar (2018 Concert)

Would Jesus have condoned such artistic thievery? Jesus Christ Superstar (2018 Concert) is full of great performances but borrows heavily from the Open Air’s production

“Would I be more noticed than I ever was before?”

The most striking thing about the US Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert from 2018, that will particularly stand out to those who saw the Regents Park Open Air Theatre production in any of its iterations, is that it is boldly credited to David Leveaux as director and Jason Ardizzone-West as production designer. There’s so much synchronicity between the two productions here that it is hard to believe that Timothy Sheader and Tom Scutt respectively didn’t deserve at least thanks if not full co-credits because original this is not.

A live television musical special – as the Americans did much more of than the Brits – this version of Jesus Christ Superstar is undoubtedly heavily influenced by the freshness of that iconic reimagining of the show. Released from its 70s origins but also any need to be particularly politically relevant (which tripped up the UK arena tour) it is a powerful piece of contemporary theatre which speaks to the cult of celebrity as pointedly as it ever has done. Continue reading “Lockdown theatre review: Jesus Christ Superstar (2018 Concert)”

9th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees

Best Series
Best Comedy Series
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
The Good Place (NBC)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
The Middle (ABC)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Best Drama Series
The Americans (FX)
Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Homecoming (Amazon)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
My Brilliant Friend (HBO)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO) Continue reading “9th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees”

70th Primetime Emmy Awards nominees

Outstanding Comedy Series
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
Black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
GLOW (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Outstanding Drama Series
The Americans (FX)
The Crown (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO) Continue reading “70th Primetime Emmy Awards nominees”

Album Review: Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers

“I have dreamed what a joy you’ll be”

Who knew that exploring the soul of Richard Rodgers would reveal a Lauryn Hill sample and a guest rap from upcoming Bronx rapper Zaire Park? And that’s just on ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ alone. But that’s exactly what you find on Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers, a project co-produced and co-curated by Billy Porter, the Tony Award-winning Broadway actor and musician.

With lyricists Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart, legendary composer Richard Rodgers redefined the American musical theatre with now-classic musicals like Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, South Pacific, and The King and I. And now Porter pays tribute to his legacy by reinterpreting his songbook with an entirely more contemporary soulful bent. In his own words, “I like to think of this as the Richard Rodgers version of the Hamilton Mixtapes.”  Continue reading “Album Review: Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers”

Album Review: The Scottsboro Boys (2014 Original London Cast Recording)

“Maybe times’ll turn”

The 2013 Young Vic production of The Scottsboro Boys was a late highlight of that year and its well-deserved transfer at the end of 2014 extended the run for this stirring Kander + Ebb show. Taking on the format of a minstrel show and tipping it almightily on its head, a group of African-American performers come together to tell the chilling story of the Scottsboro Boys trial, a tipping point of both racism and the inequity of the US justice system.

Whilst not the most obvious subject for a musical, it’s possibly all the more effective for it, it’s disarmingly suave charm easily seducing the listener musically whilst horrifying them lyrically. This potent mixture is thus wonderfully conflicting as you tap your foot and bob your head to the undeniably tuneful minstrelsy before you realise how chilling Julian Glover’s Cullum really is. It makes a mockery of the fact that the show could ever have been protested on Broadway. Continue reading “Album Review: The Scottsboro Boys (2014 Original London Cast Recording)”

Album Review: Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Original Broadway Cast)

“Sons and daughters of the long dark night
Our time has come to glow in the light”

Bit of a cheeky one this as this 8-track sampler of Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed was recorded live for Tony voters but hey, why should they get all the fun, especially now that the decision was made to close the show allegedly in the light of Audra McDonald’s pregnancy making it a less saleable prospect.

The show takes a little unpicking – a musical with a 1921 score by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle and a contemporary libretto by George C. Wolfe, based on the original book of the musical revue Shuffle Along, by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles. The story thus focuses on the challenges of mounting the original production of Shuffle Along and its effect on Broadway and race relations. Continue reading “Album Review: Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Original Broadway Cast)”

Album Review: The Color Purple (2006 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Hey, sista, whatcha gon’ do?”

The Color Purple has become a bona fide hit after John Doyle’s revival took Broadway by storm but you might not realise the level of the pop credentials that its composers Brenda Russell (‘Piano in the Dark’, ‘Get Here’), Allee Willis (‘Boogie Wonderland’, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This’, ‘I’ll Be There For You’) and Stephen Bray (classic Madonna hits like ‘Express Yourself’, ‘Into The Groove’ and ‘Causing A Commotion’) brought to the table.

And that Doyle revival being the first experience I had with the show when it originated at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it’s kinda hard to believe that the original Broadway run in 2006 wasn’t an equivalent critical success. The issues must have lay with Gary Griffin’s production as for me, this Original Broadway Cast recording is a superb rendering of the score and one which is at least the equal of the revival and in some places, its better. Continue reading “Album Review: The Color Purple (2006 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

70th Tony nominations

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father 
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey into Night 
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird 
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III 
Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey into Night 
Laurie Metcalf, Misery 
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed 
Sophie Okonedo, The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Leslie Odom, Jr, Hamilton
Alex Brightman, School of Rock
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof 
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star 
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans 
Bill Camp, The Crucible 
David Furr, Noises Off 
Richard Goulding, King Charles III 
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey into Night

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans 
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed 
Megan Hilty, Noises Off 
Andrea Martin, Dotty Otley
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along 
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple 
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster! 
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along

2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
King Charles III by Mike Bartlett – Almeida / Wyndham’s
Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst – Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Nether by Jennifer Haley – Duke of York’s
Wolf Hall / Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, adapted by Mike Poulton – Aldwych

Best New Musical
Beautiful – Aldwych
Here Lies Love – National Theatre Dorfman
Memphis – Shaftesbury
Sunny Afternoon – Hampstead / Harold Pinter

Best Revival 
A Streetcar Named Desire – Young Vic
A View from the Bridge – Young Vic / Wyndham’s
My Night with Reg – Donmar Warehouse / Apollo
Skylight – Wyndham’s
The Crucible – Old Vic Continue reading “2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”