Some early October musical news

Put A Pin In It Productions (a new Brighton based production company with a big heart and big ambition) brings a not-to-be-missed show to The Old Market in Hove this autumn. Voices of Today and Tomorrow is a musical show tunes event with a difference – partnering established West End stars with talented newcomers who are already making waves on the fringe of the industry and are sure-fire stars of tomorrow!

Jodie Steele, Luke Bayer, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Joanne Harper and Alexandra Doar plus Brighton-born Alex James Ellison, creator of the hit musical, FIVER, are set to appear live in concert alongside some of the UK’s most promising up-and-coming talent in the musical theatre industry, including Frankie Davison, Eleanor Lakin, Daniel Walford, Katie Ramshaw and Amie Shouler. Continue reading “Some early October musical news”

Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)

This cinematic adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is fabulously enjoyable, led by a fine performance by Max Harwood

“Sometimes, you gotta grab life by the balls, and you take those balls and you tuck ‘em between your legs”

The movie musical seems to be having a bit of a moment again. We’ve been treated to In The Heights and Cinderella, tick, tick…BOOM!, Dear Evan Hansen and a new West Side Story are soon on their way and who could forget Diana: A New Musical… Joining that illustrious company is Sheffield’s own Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, making the leap from the Crucible to the West End to the big* screen. (*It’s available on Amazon Prime so screen size may vary ;-))

And as it has maintained a large proportion of its original key creative team, it carries over so much of its proudly fabulous heart and soul. Based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, we follow Jamie’s last few months at high school as he dreams of becoming a drag queen. And in true Britflick fashion, there are heartwarming ups and heartbreaking downs, plus an expanded range of toe-tapping tunes from Dan Gillespie- Sells. What is fascinating as someone who has seen the stage show a fair few times now, is how well Tom MacRae’s adaptation of his own book works. Continue reading “Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)”

Happy 50th Birthday to the Young Vic

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, has announced the start of the Young Vic’s 50th birthday with a year-long programme of work entitled We are the New Tide, dedicated to the theatre’s milestone birthday.

The 50th birthday year of work begins with three major commissions:

  • YV 50thProjection Project – a projection celebrating the people and productions from across five extraordinary decades, illuminating the front of the Young Vic building each evening, with video design by Duncan McLean – check out just some of those productions in the gallery above.

    From 11 Sept – 4 October, 7.30pm – 10.30pm daily except Sundays, free.

  • The Unforgotten an interactive outdoor art installation commemorating trailblazers Mary Seacole, Marsha P. Johnson and Ulric Cross. Furthering the conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement, the Young Vic community will be invited to contribute to the installation by submitting their own nominations in writing on the side of the building and online, asking us all to (re)consider who we celebrate as our heroes. Created by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle.
    From 11 September, free.
  • The New Tomorrow– for the first piece of live theatre since the pandemic closed UK theatres, this weekend festival of speeches and monologues asks what the next fifty years hold. Writers and artists Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters will explore the change that has come and is coming. Cast to be announced.
    3 & 4 October, 4pm, Main House, free

TV Review: The Split Series 2

Despite a fabulous returning cast, Series 2 of The Split is classy-looking tosh. Very watchable but tosh all the same.

“The last thing we need is for any more salacious details to come out”

Much like Series 1, the second season of Abi Morgan’s The Split treads a line between legal drama and deluxe soap opera and more often than not, it is less of a balancing act and more of a case of elements of the former sprinkled into a heavy dose of the latter.

Which in many ways in just fine. Getting to see the likes of Nicola Walker, Deborah Findlay and Anna Chancellor strutting in expensive contemporary costumery is a blessing in itself and the production values of this show never dip below the glossy magazine standards it has set itself. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 2”

Not-really-a-review: Fairview, Young Vic

I went back to Fairview at the Young Vic

“You have told me every story I’ve ever heard”

I still can’t work out what I want to say about Fairview, a show that by its very nature demands that you don’t give anything away about it (even though saying this itself feels like a heightening of expectation you could do without).

So why not read this piece from Gal-dem instead.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Fairview is booking at the Young Vic until 23rd January, a returns queue is in operation every night

Not-yet-a-review: Fairview, Young Vic

The Young Vic’s mind-expanding and mind-blowing Fairview makes me shut up, for once. You should book now. 

“I don’t have drama.
‘Girl you got drama. I got drama'”

I’m opting out of writing about Fairview, for now, for a number of reasons, most of which will become apparent when you see the show. And you should really see this show, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s drama is a Christmas gift of a different sort, destined to make you really think and really want to debate the issues it raises. I’ll be back, and I’ll be considering the right way to respond, if at all. Until then, get booking.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Marc Brenner
Fairview is now booking at the Young Vic until 23rd January, a returns queue is in operation every night

Review: Allelujah!, Bridge Theatre

With Allelujah! at the Bridge Theatre, the return of Alan Bennett leaves me less than enthused 

“Still, it was better than this”

In some ways, Allelujah! is perfectly symptomatic of the problem I have with the Bridge Theatre. Does London really need any new theatres, no matter how much people think they want interval madeleines? Does it especially need ones that put on large-scale Alan Bennett premieres? It is nice to see Nicholas Hytner maintaining the long-gestating creative relationship he has with Bennett but at the point where his new venture is now just a carbon-copy of his former home down the South Bank, except with premium seating, it is increasingly hard to make the case for it.

It doesn’t help that this isn’t vintage Bennett. His first play in six years, Allelujah! takes place in the crowded geriatric ward of the Bethlehem, a Yorkshire hospital threatened with closure. A camera crew are filming a documentary, allowing many of the patients to wax lyrical about lives that have passed on by, the England that once was. And in the corridors around the hospital, Bennett similarly lets rip, on the loss of compassion in our society, a social care system on its knees, an NHS in an even worse state, privatisation, gentrification, the downright stupidity of an immigration system that is leaching away the very talent we need to stay. Continue reading “Review: Allelujah!, Bridge Theatre”

Review: Yellowman, Young Vic

“Don’t marry nothing dark”

As part of winning the Genesis Award, a programme supporting creatives in the “early stages of their professional lives”, the Young Vic offers winners the chance to put their talents to work in its smaller places. This year, it is the turn of director Nancy Medina who is mounting a short run of Dael Orlandersmith’s 2002 play Yellowman in the intimate space of the Clare, though without an official press night.

It’s a brutal but fascinating look at racism within the black community, as Eugene and Alma grow up in 1970s South Carolina, negotiating the difficulties that come from having parents with different skin tones. The darker-skinned Alma is firmly on the wrong side of the tracks whist Eugene, lighter-skinned but derogatorily referred to as ‘yellow’, has a wealthier family, but one who experiences no less prejudice. Continue reading “Review: Yellowman, Young Vic”

Album Review: Crazy For You – (1993 Original London Cast Recording)

“Who could ask for anything more”

Gershwin musical Crazy For You was last seen in the West End in this Open Air Theatre transfer and on the fringe at Highgate’s Gatehouse theatre but its opening run in London was a three-year stint at the Prince Edward from 1993. Credited as a ‘new’ Gershwin musical comedy, the show is an adaptation of their 1930 musical Girl Crazy sprinkled with some additional from the vast chapter of the Great American Songbook under the letter G.

And because of the quality of these songs, it’s hard not to fall entirely in love with an album that collects so many of them together, no matter the framework, especially when the cast is led by the superlative talents of Ruthie Henshall. Jae Alexander’s musical direction sounds sprightly and fresh throughout and real highlights include Henshall’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” and Kirby Ward’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.

Review: Caroline or Change, Minerva

“Household rules and small decrees unsuspecting bring us these secret little tragedies”

Well Daniel Evans looks set to be continuing one of Chichester Festival Theatre’s longstanding traditions, of producing musical theatre that tempts the cognoscenti over to West Sussex in droves and which leads calls for West End transfers as soon as the curtain falls (if they had curtains in Chichester that is…). His first musical for the venue is a promising one too, an adventurous choice in Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline or Change, and an entirely successful one under Michael Longhurst’s direction and a genuinely superb cast.

It is 1963, the United States is in the grip of a civil rights movement but one whose effects haven’t quite trickled all the way down to the Deep South just yet. Caroline Thibodeaux is an African American maid in Lakes Charles, Louisiana working for a Jewish family, The Gellmans, for 30 dollars a week. But she’s a single mother of 4 and ends are barely meeting so when stepmother of the house Rose devises a plan to teach her 8-year-old stepson Noah not to leave change in his pocket, it’s a difficult one to resist despite – or maybe because of – all the racial, social and economic tensions it represents. Continue reading “Review: Caroline or Change, Minerva”