Review – 4**** West End Musical Celebration: Live at the Palace Theatre

Some of our brightest young performers shine in this well produced greatest hits package. The West End is alive and well!

This time last year the first lockdown was in full swing and a great night out seemed a distant dream. But just like the Covid jab this show is a shot in the arm for theatre goers starved of real entertainment. West End Musical Celebration is billed as a greatest hits package and essentially this is what we get.  

Co-producer and host Shanay Holmes kicked off with a great version of You Can’t stop the beat from Hairspray, and introduced a succession of brilliantly talented performers. Ben Forster, winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar TV show totally nailed Music of the night and Superstar. Sophie Evans delivers a spine tingling rendition of Somewhere over the rainbow and almost brings a tear to the eye. 

Trevor Dion Nicholas performed Friend like me from Aladdin, a song that could have been written for him. Alice Fearn took a standing ovation for Defying gravity and drew a similar response for Let it go in Act II. Rachel John displayed an impressive vocal range with Don’t rain on my parade, while Layton Williams tore the roof off with the touring production Everybody’s talking about Jamie. As the show cranked up to its finale Shanay displayed her diva credentials on Listen and One night only. The cast joined together at the end to perform the rousing From now on from the Greatest Showman.

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3*** Public Domain – The Vaudeville Theatre @VaudevilleTh @publicdomainwe

Public Domain – The Vaudeville Theatre

Tweetingit: 3* The toxic reality of social media laid bare in this innovative new piece from two highly talented performers.

Our reliance on social media during the pandemic was undeniably complete. It provided a vital lifeline and maintained a semblance of human industry allowing many to work from home. However, it must be wondered if real communication has been usurped by a range of annoyingly convenient devices that do everything except keep us real.

So Public Domain is a timely study of how social media became an animal we feed but can no longer control. Following its well-received digital debut at the Southwark Playhouse, it now features in a limited four date run at the Vaudeville Theatre in the Strand.

As a verbatim musical it draws heavily on the indelible universe of the internet. There is a disturbing air of familiarity, as Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke portray characters and moods that increasingly dominate our lives. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are thoroughly analysed and exposed, resplendent with their obvious shortcomings. Forristal and Clarke occupy boxes on either side of the stage and engage through words and gestures; but never really talk.

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Review: 4**** Westside Stories – The Making of a Classic via BBC I-Player @BrunoTonioli #CultureDuringQuarantine #staycreative

Tweetingit: 4* A revealing documentary tracing the anatomy of a musical that broke all the rules and took the genre into new territory.

Among the many delights on BBC I-Player is this excellent documentary presented by Bruno Tonioli and Suzy Klein. Made in 2010, it provides a fascinating insight of a classic that almost never happened. The genesis of Westside Story began in the 1940s when choreographer Jerome Robbins had a spark of inspiration, a contemporary musical based on Romeo & Juliet. He recruited composer Leonard Bernstein and acclaimed playwright Arthur Laurents. However, the dream team failed to agree on the project’s direction and it was mothballed. With the addition of whizz-kid lyricist Stephen Sondheim a legend of musical theatre was eventually born.

We are presented with a highly intelligent study of a musical that re-defined the genre first on Broadway then the West End. Musical theatre was awash with bright, frothy productions like My Fair Lady and Oklahoma! But Westside Story was completely different. Dangerous and edgy, it had a Bernstein score tinged with Latin rhythm. A Shakespearian tragedy was duly transformed. Romeo & Juliet had decamped to New York as Tony and Maria, the Capulets and Montagues morphed into the Jets and Sharks warring over disputed territory. Sondheim added the flourish with dynamic lyrics that enlivened Laurent’s book. It was the perfect combination of song, dance and drama.

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Review: 5***** Two Gentleman of Verona – HALF TIME REVIEW #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles

We are in a weird times. You will hear people say it again and again. But during this time, we get to experience new things, in new ways. And I feel honoured and lucky to have experienced TheShowMustGoOnline performing their first show.

Every week, Rob Myles and a group of talented actors will perform a read through of Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which they were written. Tonight is The Two Gentleman of Verona.

After being introduced to the cast, we had the most beautiful introduction to the play by Ben Crystal, actor, producer and writer and the author of Shakespeare on Toast. His voice is easy to listen to and his message, while tinged with sorrow that we face the times we do, is hopeful and brings some positivity.

Ben Crystal on my TV introducing the play

I will paraphrase, but here is what Ben said.

For everyone out there who has lost a project, who has lost a job, it may not be a great deal of comfort to know, The Globe went down due to the plague…and look what can be done [in relation to what Shakespeare managed to create]. Hopefully this coming together throughout art, is positive for me, and I hope for everyone else.

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@benadamsuk talks to us about the importance of creativity and how he is working to support his fellow actors as well as bring some joy to us all

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I would be talking to people in the entertainment industry about how they are managing now, why creativity is important and what they are doing to keep arts and culture available to us during this time.

Ben Adams, British singer, songwriter, producer, creator of Eugenius and member of band a1 , is the first to speak to us.

We are extremely grateful to Ben for taking the time when he is in the middle of organising the live streaming of Eugenius, which will be on Facebook tomorrow (Friday 20th March) at 7pm.

PP: What do you think the importance of creativity right now is and how do you think people use it to manage in times of crisis?

BA: It’s probably the best thing we can do to stay sane. The arts are created for people’s enjoyment, their own and others. As the world is a very scary place right now it’s the one medicine that is widely available and obtainable by anyone. 

PP: What do you think it means to people to be able to watch contemporary theatre and arts and do you think art is a counter to the anxiety of this time?

BA: Eugenius being streamed is a great example of this. We have already seen hundreds of messages from people who have expressed how thankful they are that they have something to take their minds off the panic and scare of everyday life at the moment. That was the point of the show in the first place and there is never a time I can remember that that kind of escapism has been more needed. 

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Eugenius streaming on Friday 20th March on Facebook benadamsuk @eugeniusuk

With the theatre industry in an unprecedented position and venues closed across the UK due to the COVID – 19 outbreak, industry leaders are creatively seeking ways to support theatre and bring it directly to you – at home. Following their hugely popular run at the Other Palace in 2018, the out-of-this-world British musical Eugenius! will release the full archive footage of the show online on Friday 20th March at 7pm in order to raisemoney for Acting for Others and provide some much-needed relief to those self-isolating.

The writers Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins say “THEY CAN’T STOP US, WE’RE A TEAM!…. as shows close across the globe and people are forced to stay at home, there’s never been a more important time to bring the joy of live theatre right to your doorstep! Unlike some other shows that have recordings intended for release this was never intended to be seen BUT as the cast are incredible, the music rocks and it still delivers the same heart felt story and feel good factor that audiences took away with them when they saw the show live, we thought you should see it anyway!  Team Eugenius thanks you in advance for all your support  – Go Hygienius! Go Hygiene!”

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Review: 4**** A Comedy About a Bank Robbery. Norwich Theatre Royal @BankRobberyPlay ‏@TheatreRNorwich @mischiefcomedy

Comedy is often associated with Norwich theatres, but more for its stand-up comedians at Norwich Playhouse, but this week is all about the comedy-drama at Norwich’s Theatre Royal. download (2)Following the huge success of The Play That Goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre brings their latest hit, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery to Norwich as part of its UK tour.

When a priceless diamond is entrusted to the city bank (we’ll use that term loosely) and in a town where most people seem to be crooks, will it stay safe? With mistaken identities, love affairs and revelations it seems nobody can be trusted and everyone has an ulterior motive.

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Review: 5***** Miss Saigon Norwich Theatre Royal @MissSaigonUK @soohakim23 @chuckmarbella @TheatreRNorwich

#Tweetingit – 5***** Wow, simply amazing! Powerfully emotive, energetic and sensitive – Miss Saigon has it all.

Last night I attended the press night of Miss Saigon at Norwich’s Theatre Royal and honestly I was so impressed with everything – from the singing to the set design. object-image

Having never seen the show, but knowing a few songs and listening to the praise from others, I had high expectations – I wasn’t disappointed, in fact they were exceeded at every point and I can’t wait to see it again

Miss Saigon first opened in 1989 at Drury Lane Theatre Royal, and over time won the hearts of theatre-goers all over the world, claiming legendary musical status.

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Review: 2** The Yellow Wallpaper – Omnibus Theatre @Omnibus_Theatre

The marketing for this show is a striking image of an agonised figure reaching through a yellow wall, I was therefore quite ready for an atmospheric piece and a sense of ominous danger. The production is based upon an original short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, published in 1892.

We are introduced to the sarcastic and self-assured Alice who addresses the audience whilst waiting for her doctor’s appointment at 5 months pregnant. TheYellowWallpaper18-PRESS5-credit-Lidia-CrisafulliWhat follows is a rather nifty time-lapse scene, where Alice’s doctor, played by Charles Warner, documents Alice’s slow decline from initial concerns around her mental wellbeing in late pregnancy to a difficult birth and subsequent post-natal depression, resulting in her baby being taken away, for the short term. And this is where the action begins, Alice spends more and more time in the yellow-walled room of her Husband’s newly inherited Summer House with peeling Wallpaper that gradually becomes to fascinate and obsess her, banned from writing, she snatches moments when left alone to write a fairy tale for her baby.

 

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Review: 4**** Fusion Theatre’s Stories from Around the World at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre  @thelondonfusion @TanyaChainey @ThePleasance

There’s always a certain amount of trepidation when one takes a four-year-old to the theatre.  A darkened room filled with strangers is not their usual environment. This means there is always a considerable risk that you will be the parent dragging a fractious, bored, crying pre-schooler across everyone’s eye line to prevent them spoiling the show for those with better-behaved children.  Stories+LogoSo it was with these nagging concerns that my four-year-old daughter and I set out on a beautiful, warm sunny April afternoon to go and see Fusion Theatre’s Stories from Around the World at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre.

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