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”

News: West End Wonderland announced

Join stars of the West End stage for festive fun galore at West End Wonderland, a week of unique performances with plenty of stardust. All right in the heart of theatreland at the Welsh Chapel, Charing Cross Road.

Cabaret Whores, Sarah-Louise Young’s brilliant musical character comedy is packed with hilarious original songs, bitingly funny stories and lightning quick changes. Named as one of Time Out’s Top Ten Cabaret Acts of the Year, Sarah-Louise has appeared in the West End with Fascinating Aida, Julie Madly Deeply, La Soirée and Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.
 
Yes Queens is the West End’s first female-led improvised comedy night, featuring top UK improv talent from Olivier Award-winning productions such as Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Austentatious and Mischief Theatre. Interactive Theatre at its best. Continue reading “News: West End Wonderland announced”

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”

Book review: The Half – Simon Annand

The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand

Just a quickie for this book as The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand was released in 2008. But with an imminent new exhibition of these photos and a bargainous copy of the book popping up on Ebay, I thought I’d take the plunge.

And I’m glad I did as it is a proper work of art in its own right. Annand has been photographing actors for over 25 years and as such, has a veritable treasure trove of shots to share with us, resulting from the trusting relationships he has built up with so many, from the new kids on the block to veritable dames. Continue reading “Book review: The Half – Simon Annand”

EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)

“You won’t be my angel”
I won’t be your guy

2010 EP Quiet by Tony winner Gavin Creel is really rather lovely indeed. Six tracks of acoustically-inclined folk pop co-written with Robbie Roth, it is a short but sweet album of real heart that emphasises the musicality of this musical theatre star, and also shows a wise progression from his first album. And if we’re to believe the lyrics here, that heart is a substantially bruised one which works out very well for fans of a melancholy ballad.

Such fans are particularly well served by the opening pair of tracks. The delicate ‘Green To Grey’ and the plaintive reality check of ‘Love Fell Down’ are desperately heartfelt and beautifully moving as Creel allows a husky tenderness to colour his voice to gorgeous effect. The collection is intelligently sequenced too, allowing a note of hope to creep in with the late realisation of ‘Small Words’ and the gentle humour of closer ‘Hot Ohio’.  Continue reading “EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)”

Review: Another Night Before Christmas, Bridge House

“Would it help if you sat on my lap”

My decision not to see many festively-themed shows this year ran into my commitment to supporting new musical theatre writing as far as Another Night Before Christmas was concerned, so it was a rare trip down to the Bridge House Theatre in Penge for this. With book and lyrics by Sean Grennan and music by Leah Okimoto and a rare talent for attracting a top-notch cast – this two-hander stars Olivier award-winning George Maguire and Rachael Wooding – the scene is set for this alternative festive fare.

Though it has to be said, it doesn’t prove to be that different in the end. Social worker Carole manages one last act of kindness on her way home from her work Christmas do, but her plans to flop on the sofa and do nothing on Christmas Eve are well and truly disrupted by a visitor. For the man she gave the party leftovers to has rocked up on her doorstop and is claiming that he is, well, Father Christmas himself. Unable to turf him out into the cold, she soon finds him trying to whittle away at her cynicism and getting her to believe. Continue reading “Review: Another Night Before Christmas, Bridge House”

Album Review: Richard Beadle – Songs (2012)

“If we make it through together”

Songs was the debut album from Richard Beadle, a songwriter, composer and conductor of television and production music, as well as a well-established musical supervisor/director on a wide range of West End shows from Betty Blue Eyes, The Bodyguard to the forthcoming The Girls. I actually attended a concert showcasing Beadle’s music back in 2013 but it has taken me a little time to get round to properly listening to the album.

His style seems to sit somewhere equidistant between ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ musical theatre writing – the nervy angst of ‘The Wedding Song’, sung perfectly by Julie Atherton, owes a debt to Jason Robert Brown whereas Rachael Wooding’s beautiful declaration of love in ‘Here We Are’ has a much more classic feel to it. And what comes across these 12 tracks is a pleasing sense of confidence in musicality, these are songs that stand as well individually as in the musicals from which they come. Continue reading “Album Review: Richard Beadle – Songs (2012)”