Re-review: Wicked, Apollo Victoria

As Wicked powers towards its 13th year on the West End, Alice Fearn’s Elphaba ensures visitors to the Apollo Victoria won’t be disappointed

“Ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen…”

Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Wicked now – it feels like loads – so it’s useful that I have it all written down in a blog… I do know it is a good while since I last saw it, five years in fact, which was evidently my third visit to the Apollo Victoria and one which left me disappointed. So it has taken a little while for me to get interested in taking up an opportunity to go see it again but we got there, eventually.

And I have to say I enjoyed my return trip to Oz, mainly because of the sensational performance of Alice Fearn as Elphaba. It’s always nice to see a performer rewarded for paying their dues, working their way up through ensemble and chorus roles until they get that chance to shine. And because of that background, that experience, that starring role has the real sense of being a career-defining opportunity. Continue reading “Re-review: Wicked, Apollo Victoria”

Review: Kiss Me, Kate, London Coliseum

Opera North’s production does nothing to address the inherent problems of Kiss Me, Kate and thus feels like a relic of the past

“The overture is about to start,
You cross your fingers and hold your heart”

Revivals speak a lot to where an organisation sees itself. With its heady combination of Shakespearean drama and Cole Porter’s musical wit, Kiss Me, Kate has all the air of a sure bet about it and indeed, Jo Davies first mounted this production for Opera North in 2015, this revival of that revival being directed here by Ed Goggin as it opens here at the Coliseum.

But for all its familiarity, and that inherent bankability, it feels a problematic choice to stage. In a contemporary Britain, in a society switched onto #MeToo, even the sexual politics of something as notionally fatuous as Love Island are being newly parsed and much of what has long been considered acceptable, or tolerated due to ‘classic’ status, is rightly being reassessed.   Continue reading “Review: Kiss Me, Kate, London Coliseum”

News: International Rescue Committee and Shakespeare’s Globe reveal the ‘Stranger’s Case’ for #WorldRefugeeDay

International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Shakespeare’s Globe have come together to mark World Refugee Day with a powerfully moving short film – the “Stranger’s Case”.

Actors from some of the biggest TV shows and Broadway shows have come together with refugees from Syria, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan (half of the people who appear in the film have fled conflict) to perform a previously banned speech widely believed to have been written by William Shakespeare, from the collaborative 16th-century play “Sir Thomas More”.

Watch the film here:

and then explore what Shakespeare’s Globe is doing for #RefugeeWeek, and think about supporting International Rescue Committee’s work here.

 

Review: The Country Wife, Minerva

A cracking cast can’t quite make sense of a modern updating of The Country Wife at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre

“What is wit in a wife good for, but to make a man a cuckold?”

How many productions does it take for a playwright to have a moment? We could be on the cusp of a Wycherley wave, with the second production of The Country Wife to arrive this year (the first being at the Southwark Playhouse in April). 

But though this Restoration writer is proving popular, directors seem unable not to tinker with his work – that production was set in the 1920s and Jonathan Munby here moves it even further to the present day, casting new light but also dimming its intent. Continue reading “Review: The Country Wife, Minerva”

Not-a-review: The Chalk Garden, Chichester Festival Theatre

The Chalk Garden fails to do it for me at Chichester Festival Theatre, despite the presence of the likes of Penelope Keith, Oliver Ford Davies  and Amanda Root

“Oh, if I could only be somewhere other than where I am”

But question The Chalk Garden at Chichester Festival Theatre, insufferably dull as it turned out to be.

Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Catherine Ashmore
The Chalk Garden is booking at the Chichester Festival Theatre until 16th June

Album Review: Broken Wings

Written by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan, the concept album of new musical Broken Wings marks an ambitious debut and an impressive arrival 

“I remember the beauty of home”

Would you be able to name the third best-selling poet of all time? Behind Shakespeare and Laozi, it is actually the Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran. So adapting his work for the stage is perhaps something of a natural step, and an under-explored one given the Anglo-Saxon bias of the Western canon. And it feels only right that it should fall to a Lebanese man and a Qatari woman to compose a musical based on one of his most famous works.

The result is Broken Wings. A new musical which has not only released a concept album, but will play the Theatre Royal Haymarket for four nights in early August, marking the first Arabic-inspired musical to grace the West End. But is it any good? I have to say I have fallen hard for its charms, as it reveals itself to be a supremely confident piece of writing, and one which balances the melting pot of its influences with an almost classic approach. Continue reading “Album Review: Broken Wings”

Create A Magic Memory With A London Theatre Break

“Let me entertain you!” former Take That member Robbie Williams once sang! For entertainment is what you’ll get if you spend an evening in the West End of London. See a musical, and you’ll soon be in its mesmeric grip. You’ll be taken away from the daily humdrum for a few hours and royally entertained. It’s an experience which, if you combine with the range of London Theatre breaks on offer, will live long in your memory.

Into the West End

Head to the West end of London, and you’ll soon discover you’ve entered theatreland. On every street, down every side avenue, you’ll find a theatre. Its lights and signs are vying for your attention. You’re in the entertainment district of London, so enjoy, and make the most of it! 

As you’re visiting the capital, it makes sense to combine your show with an overnight stay. Just think, you’ll have seen a show, why make the long journey home? Stay, take in some night scenes of London, knowing a centrally located hotel bed is close by to return too. You want to make the most of your London visit, right? Continue reading “Create A Magic Memory With A London Theatre Break”

Review: It’s Only Life, Union

A revue done right. Aria Entertainment’s It’s Only Life brings John Bucchino’s work to beautiful life at the Union Theatre

“There is a sidewalk in California
Where they put the stars right at your feet
And people delight in stepping on them…”

It’s trickier than you might think to make a revue really work. Putting together a programme of unconnected songs to showcase a composer’s work is one thing, but breathing genuine theatrical life into it is entirely another. Fortunately, the folks behind It’s Only Life, produced by Aria Entertainment at the Union Theatre, have done just that.

The US composer and lyricist John Bucchino is the man of the moment here, in a show conceived by himself and Daisy Prince. But it is tempting to consider director Tania Azevedo the real star, leading a superb company of cast and creatives to elevate what could be something quite slight, into a couple of hours of something really quite moving. Continue reading “Review: It’s Only Life, Union”

Review: Austentatious, Savoy

A belated return to one of the funniest improv groups out there – catch Austentatious at the Savoy, at Edinburgh or on tour across the UK

“I would be from Brighton if I could”

It’s been a little while since I’ve been to see the Austentatious guys, absence makes the heart fonder and all that, but a Sunday night at the Savoy proved harder to resist. And once there, I did being to wonder how I could have left it six months to indulge once again in some of the funniest shenanigans you could hope to see on a West End stage.

For the uninitiated, Austentatious is an improvised show, whereby a lost Jane Austen classic is performed for our pleasure, based on a title suggested by the audience. Tonight’s play was entitled Queer Eye for the Regency Guy, an appropriate choice for Pride month and a searing tale of forbidden love, funny walks, and avocados. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Savoy”

News: National Theatre Season: July 2018 – January 2019

So much goodness announced here in the National Theatre’s near future – particularly excited for Nine Night’s transfer, what looks like a leading role for Siân Brooke and the prospect of Joanna Riding’s ‘Losing My Mind’. 

National Theatre Season: July 2018 – January 2019

Nine Night, Natasha Gordon’s critically acclaimed debut play transfers to the West End following a sold-out run at the NT

Further cast announced for Antony and Cleopatra alongside Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, playing from September

Cast confirmed for world premiere of David Hare’s new play I’m Not Running, including Siân Brooke, Alex Hassell and Joshua McGuire

Peter Brook returns to direct at the National Theatre for the first time in 50 years with The Prisoner, co-directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne

Following the acclaimed Consent, Nina Raine returns to the NT with her new play Stories starring Claudie Blakley

Anthony Neilson makes his NT debut with new play The Tell-Tale Heart, based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe

Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding to join the cast of Follies alongside Janie Dee and Peter Forbes, returning to the Olivier Theatre in February 2019

War Horse returns to the NT marking the centenary of Armistice Day

Antony and Cleopatra and I’m Not Running to  broadcast to 65 countries worldwide as part of NT Live

To mark the 100th anniversary of the first women in the UK gaining the right to vote, the NT stages Courage Everywhere; a series of rehearsed readings, talks and screenings Continue reading “News: National Theatre Season: July 2018 – January 2019”