TV Review: The Good Fight Series 4

Covid meant we sadly only got 7 episodes of Series 4 of The Good Fight, that’s just not enough Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and Cush Jumbo

“We need evidence, no conspiracy theories”

Just a quickie for this as the truncated fourth season of The Good Fight meant that it had a rather abrupt finish that cheated the creators out of the fullness of the stories they wanted to tell. What we did get was the customary tackling of huge up-to-the-minute issues – racism in the workplace, political parties trying to reach marginalised communities and in the daring final episode, Jeffrey Epstein.

Baranski’s Diane Lockhart remains one of the great TV characters but I’m not sure anyone was particularly well served by the larger themes of the show. The ramifications of the buyout were tiresome, Memo 618 didn’t get the resolution it needed and Lucca’s plot strand smacked of them not knowing what to do with the character, given how little she ended up interacting with the rest of the main cast. Continue reading “TV Review: The Good Fight Series 4”

New TV shows to get stuck into

I get stuck into the first episodes of TV shows Van Der Valk, The Good Fight, Gangs of London and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels to see what my next must-see will be

“Who else was masturbating into plants?!”

I’m of course far too young to remember the original Van Der Valk – had I seen it before though, I might well have saved myself this couple of hours. Importing a British cast to play Dutch detectives in a crime serial set in Amsterdam seems like such a retrograde move, I still can’t get my head around it, especially in this day and age when so much quality foreign-language drama is readily available. Written by Chris Murray, this revival sees Marc Warren head up the cast as a maverick detective with a team who aid and abet his behaviour – there’s not a smack of originality about it, nor any real interest sadly…great locations though. Am already dreaming of my return to the city, but not sure I’ll be revisiting this show. Continue reading “New TV shows to get stuck into”

Broadway Album Reviews: Hadestown / Jagged Little Pill / Oklahoma!

Encouraged by their Curtain Up nominations, I take a quick look at the Broadway cast recordings for Hadestown, Jagged Little Pill and Oklahoma!

“I want you to know, that I am happy for you”

I’m not quite sure why I haven’t got around to reviewing the original Broadway cast recording of Hadestown since I listen to it at least once a week, such is the enduring strength of Anaïs Mitchell’s glorious score. I loved the show so much at the National, that I’d already booked to go and see it again before I got home that evening, and getting to dive deep into this recording is about as close as I’ll get to seeing it again (I doubt it’ll return here any time soon although the West End is crying out for its inventiveness).

Those of us who loved the show in London are blessed that the Broadway transfer retained its key cast. So the intense vitality of Amber Gray, the easy swing of André De Shields, the indie-pop sweetness of Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada and the gravelly hotness of Patrick Page remain intact. And those tunes! The plaintive cries of ‘Wait for Me’, the slinkiness of ‘When the Chips Are Down’, the incredible prescience of ‘Why We Build The Wall’, the sheer glee of ‘Way Down Hadestown’, it is a winner from start to finish for me. Continue reading “Broadway Album Reviews: Hadestown / Jagged Little Pill / Oklahoma!”

The Curtain Up Show Album of the Year 2019 nominees

You can now vote for the Best London Cast Recording, Best Broadway Cast Recording and Best Solo Album here. Then fill in your details and click Vote and one lucky voter will win £100 worth of Theatre Tokens!

Best UK Cast Recording
& Juliet – Original London Cast Recording
Company – 2018 London Cast Recording
Follies – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording
Heathers (Original West End Cast Recording)
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – 2019 Original London Cast
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Original Cast Recording

Best American Cast Recording
Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Hadestown (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Jagged Little Pill (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Moulin Rouge (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Oklahoma! (2019 Broadway Cast Recording)
Tootsie (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Best Solo Album
Cassidy Janson – Cassidy
Ramin Karimloo – From Now On
John Owen-Jones –Spotlight
Ben Platt – Sing To Me Instead
Jon Robyns – Musical Directions
Hayden Tee – Face to Face

Album Reviews: Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact / My Lifelong Love / Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn

This trio of album reviews covers Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact, My Lifelong Love and Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn

“People are swell but I’d rather be sailing”

Released in 2013 in support of Broadway Impact, an organisation of theatre artists and fans mobilised in support of marriage equality, Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact is a powerful collection of songs from Jonathan Reid Gealt. It is no secret that I love a ballad and having the likes of Kelli O’Hara, Adrienne Warren and Jeremy Jordan crooning and belting like this is just heaven. Jordan’s elegiac ‘Here For You’ with its gentle guitar is superb, as is the passion of Warren on ‘Home Away From Home’ but the standout track for me is O’Hara’s powerfully moving ‘Breathe’. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Here for You: Ballads for Broadway Impact / My Lifelong Love / Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn”

Nominations for 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Kate Benson, [PORTO]
Jocelyn Bioh, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Lindsey Ferrentino, Army and the Orphans
Meghan Kennedy, Napoli, Brooklyn
Dominique Morisseau, Pipeline

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Carousel
David M. Lutken, Woody Sez
Conor Ryan, Desperate Measures
Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants
Continue reading “Nominations for 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Album Reviews: Peter Pan A Musical Adventure / The Confession Room / Marie Christine

This trio of album reviews covers Peter Pan A Musical Adventure, The Confession Room and Marie Christine

“Would I oblige?
I obliged”

Michael John LaChiusa is one of those composers of the new American musical theatre mould, or maybe even beyond, in adopting a dense and complex compositional style that means his work hasn’t always had the credit it deserves. This original Broadway cast recording of his 1999 show Marie Christine feels like a case in point – a Tony-nominated book and score that has rarely been revived, never mind made it to the UK. An adaptation of the Medea story that relocates it to 1890s New Orleans, it is blessed by a stunning central performance from Audra McDonald as a remarkably vicious leading lady. The score is made up of fragmented pieces of music rather than conventional notions of what we would consider a song but its operatic drama hits the mark for me. And I’d love to see it the UK some time soon please… Continue reading “Album Reviews: Peter Pan A Musical Adventure / The Confession Room / Marie Christine”

CD Review: Xanadu (2007 Original Broadway Cast)

“A place, where nobody dared to go”
And from the musicals that will be on at the Southwark Playhouse to one which has already played. The glitter and roller-skates of Xanadu took up residence at the tail end of 2015 and was a hugely enjoyable camp-fest of a show – tongue not so much in cheek as licking lips lasciviously whilst adjusting leg-warmers. An unexpected Tony-nominated success on Broadway in 2007, this cast recording dates back to that production and so features the rather marvellous Cheyenne Jackson.
If I believed in guilty pleasures then this would be the thing but what was heightened in the theatre due to tanned thighs, clouds of chiffon and raucous roller-skating doesn’t quite come across on record here. For listening to this record ultimately depends on how much you like the oeuvre of Olivia Newton-John and ELO and little more besides, as little is done to many of the songs and the orchestrations that they receive here are pitifully thin compared to the originals as they inevitably are.

Jackson’s hapless hunk Sonny is undoubtedly appealing but there’s a real caustic edge to Kerry Butler’s Clio/Kira, the goddess who helps him to build the ultimate roller-disco, in her savage Newton-John impersonation. And there’s nothing unpleasant about their duets together, tracks like ‘Suddenly’ and ‘Suspended in Time’, they just end up being versions of the inoffensive pop songs that they are.
It’s left to the likes of Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman as evil sisters Melpomene and Calliope to transfer the campness directly into the music, their takes on ‘Evil Woman’ and ‘Strange Magic’ raising at least a chuckle throughout as they’re allowed to strain at the MOR leash. Otherwise, sadly, you’re best off just listening to your Best of Olivia Newton-John and ELO if it’s their music you’re craving.