News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert

Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP) is pleased to announce the following creative team for Broadway Classics in Concert, on TuesdayFebruary 208:00 p.m., in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.

Don StephensonStage Director
Kevin StitesMusic Director/Conductor
Christopher AshProjection & Video
Jason LyonsLighting
Dave HorowitzSound
Gary MickelsonStage Manager
Telsey + Company / Craig Burns, CSACasting

MCP also welcomes Nikki Renée Daniels who will be joining the outstanding alumni cast for Broadway Classics in Concert.

The full alumni cast includes Michael Arden (Ragtime, Hunchback of Notre Dame)Sierra Boggess (The Secret Garden)Carolee Carmello (Broadway Classics 2013)Allan Corduner(Titanic)Nikki Renée Daniels (The Secret Garden)Quentin Earl Darrington (The Secret Garden)Ramin Karimloo (Parade, The Secret Garden)Norm Lewis (Ragtime)Laura Osnes(Crazy For You)Lea Salonga (Ragtime)Ryan Silverman (Titanic) and Tony Yazbeck (Crazy For You). Continue reading “News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert”

Re-review: Girl From The North Country, Noël Coward

Poster for the transfer of Girl from the North Country at the Noel Coward Theatre

“What did you expect?”

After a hugely successful run at the Old Vic, Girl From The North Country transfers to the Noël Coward with the majority of its cast and all of its melancholy soul intact. Seeing Sheila Atim transform ‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ into the most heartfelt of laments was one of my highlights of 2017 and seeing it once again made me feel like it could easily be one of the highlights of 2018 as well.

Her performance is symptomatic of what makes this show so fantastic. The secret weapon in Conor McPherson’s production is the arrangement of the Bob Dylan songs by Simon Hale, an interpretative masterstroke which weaves the music into the very fabric of these people’s lives. (Though whether that makes this a musical remains anyone’s guess.)

Continue reading “Re-review: Girl From The North Country, Noël Coward”

Review: Great Again, VAULT Festival

“What kind of person isn’t interested in politics”

A black man, a woman and a young gay lad walk into an Ohio bar – it may sound like the set-up for a joke but as they start to talk about how much they like Trump, we realise it is a nifty little conceit at the heart of new musical Great Again. Sidestepping the predictable, writer Isla van Tricht uses this trio to spearhead her investigation into the ideology behind young conservatives and the ways in which they coalesced behind the unlikeliest of presidential candidates in 2016. 

In their Midwestern home of Beavercreek, Ohio, Josh and Kelsey are both first time voters but given that their feelings lie to the right of centre, at odds with the liberal views of the friends and family around them, they have to look elsewhere to find kindred political souls. Tagging onto the campaign trail for Trump when it rocks up in their state, they connect with a side of America chomping at the bit to have their voices heard but as their political understanding develops, personal connections become strained.

Continue reading “Review: Great Again, VAULT Festival”

Review: Austen the Musical, Bread and Roses

“Must you scribble all the time, Jane?”

Making a visit to London in the midst of a UK-wide tour, Rob Winlow’s Austen the Musical is a rather low-key affair but one which has moments of delicate beauty. It takes a biographical slant on the novelist’s life, focusing on the apparent sparseness of her romantic affairs and how, if at all, this impacted on the richness of her writing, concerned as it was with love and romance and marriage.
It’s a slight concept to rest a show on, given the inherent nature of fiction writing, but one which grows in strength the more it relies on its central performance. Edith Kirkson is full of warm personality and gentle charm as Jane, her heart variously open to the variety of suitors that alight at her door yet never distracting from the free-flowing creative spirit that eventually scored a hard-won publishing deal.
Winlow’s book both invents potential partners and draws them from real life but director Timothy Trimingham Lee’s decision to have the same actor play them all is a neat trick, portraying different facets of contemporaneous masculinity and suggesting the stifling way in which societal rules hemmed it in. With that in mind, Jenni Lea-Jones is good fun indeed as Jane’s Bennet-like mother.
The score has its moments too, especially in some delicately stirring solo songs led by co-composer, musical director and Cassandra Austen Arlene McNaught from the piano. More work needs to be done though on the blending of voices, the ensemble rarely balancing as well as it could, particularly in the overly repeated key refrain which earworms its way right into the mind, whether that’s good or bad is up to you!
Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 23rd January then touring to
25th January 2018 Stamford | Stamford Corn Exchange | 19.30
26th January 2018 Beverley | East Riding Theatre | 19.30
27th January 2018 Beverley | East Riding Theatre | 14.00
27th January 2018 Beverley | East Riding Theatre | 19.30
8th February 2018 Worcestershire | Atrix | 20.00
27th February 2018 Glenrothes | Rothes Hall | 19.30
28th February 2018 Glenrothes | Rothes Hall | 19.30
7th March 2018 Harborough | Harborough Theatre | 19.30
28th March 2018 Winchester | Chesil Theatre | 19.30
29th March 2018 Winchester | Chesil Theatre | 19.30

Review: Six, Arts Theatre

Promotional image for Six at the Arts Theatre

What hurts more than a broken heart?
A severed head‘”

Lots of fun to be had with Sixan anarchic look at the roll-call of women who hitched their wagon to Henry VIII’s marital train. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’ fiercely modern style owes as much to the feminist punch of Lizzie as it does to the ground-breaking approach to history of Hamilton ,  and proved a highly entertaining hour of late-night theatre to brighten up a Monday night.

Quite why it has been shunted away to a handful of performances in a weekly slot at the Arts Theatre I’m not sure, though it has had the effect of ensuring a ‘sell-out season’ and amplified the love it has been receiving on social media and IRL too. Which is no bad thing I guess and hopefully will lead to some further life for Six, hopefully holding onto this cast, particularly the excellent Genesis Lynea.


Not-a-Review: Hair, Vaults

“No more falsehoods or derisions”

I went into Hair with as open a mind as I could muster but it really isn’t my cup of (herbal) tea at all, particularly in a production like this one which felt overly concerned in making sure we were all having ‘a good time’.  That may be in keeping with the hippy schtick but doesn’t cut to the core of any of the many more serious issues which it ends up skating over rather too thinly. Plus the score (still) doesn’t do anything for me. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 13th January

Re-review: Romantics Anonymous, Sam Wanamaker

“Je suis émotif

I’m a big fan of chocolate and an even bigger fan of Romantics Anonymous so naturally I had to head back to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for second helpings (and with somewhat less calories than your usual festive chocolate offerings!). Not too much more to add to my original review and I’d recommend booking in before it closes next week but there’s not a ticket to be had! Returns queue…?

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 6th January

Review: Elf, Lowry

The Lowry Theatre's 2017/8 production of Christmas show Elf

“Make it Sparklejollytwinklejingley”

First things first, it’s a really poor show on behalf of those in charge of this production at the Lowry that there was no announcement or any mention of the fact that the understudy for the main part was on. Not for any sniffy reason about wanting to see Ben Forster but rather that it denied Colin Burnicle his spot in the limelight on the first occasion that he got to play the role of Buddy the Elf.

I don’t think Burnicle will mind me saying he had an understandably slightly nervy beginning but he soon settled into the green felt boots of Buddy, working a slightly more frantic Jim Carrey-esque vibe than one might expect from a role originated on screen by Will Ferrell but it was one that worked. And he connected well with former Atomic Kitten Liz McLarnon as his putative love interest Juvie, as under-developed a part it is.

Elf premiered in the UK a couple of years ago and when it made it to the West End’s Dominion, I saw it (review here) and I have to say that its rather old-school charms won me over. So I was happy to revisit it en famille this winter with three-quarters of its leading cast still intact – Forster joined by Joe McGann as Walter and Jessica Martin as Emily once again – and the latter two clearly having a ball once again.

Of the newer cast members, Lori Haley Fox is hilarious as charismatic office worker Deb and Graham Lappin does well as the Store Manager but Brookside’s Louis Emerick didn’t quite nail his comic timing as the narrating Santa Claus. And Morgan Young’s direction suffers from an over-long first half (a good 80 minutes) with perhaps too much of the festive magic packed into the second half, though properly magic it is with snowfalls and sleigh rides to wonder at. Good fun but hardly essential.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 14th January


Not-a-re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace

“The plan is to fan this spark into a flame”

It’s not been a hot minute since I last saw Hamilton so just take a look at my original review for the deets.

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes (with interval)
Booking note – keep your eyes open for returns, of which there have been quite a few.  And check your browsers, the Ticketmaster site is most temperamental with the likes of Opera, Firefox and Chrome in my experience, Microsoft’s Edge has been most reliable for me