Review: & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre

Late 90s pop is always my jam so a musical that features it is always going to be a winner. The brilliant & Juliet is so much more besides as well though, don’t miss it at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

“You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground”

What if Juliet didn’t die? And what if the writer and producer of some of the most iconic pop music of the last two decades (think Britney, Backstreet Boys, Céline, Katy Perry, Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, P!nk just to name a few) decided to lend his back catalogue of songs to a new musical dedicated to her? The result is & Juliet, a slice of energetic and hugely entertaining musical theatre that explodes with joy at the Shaftesbury Theatre. 

David West Read’s smartly self-aware book employs a metatheatrical twist as we open with William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway having a barney about the ending to his latest play Romeo and Juliet and she persuades him to give her a bash at writing a new one with him. Thus we pick up in Verona where Juliet reclaims ‘…Baby One More Time’ from Darius and declares her intention to flee to Paris with her best gal pals and flirt with some foreign guys. But as William and Anne tinker with their plotting, the fractures in their own relationship come to the fore, causing some major new plot twists. Continue reading “Review: & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre”

Review: Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre

There’s much to like about Dear Evan Hansen at the Noël Coward Theatre, not least a brilliant lead performance from Sam Tutty

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

After seeing Dear Evan Hansen, you realise that its title can be taken two ways. It’s the salutation on a letter that precipitates a world of trouble for the awkward teenager and those around him as per Steven Levenson’s effectively contemporary book. But it also ultimately emerges as an affectionate form of address, troublingly so as the show latterly pulls its punches around some of the harder-hitting topics that it raises.

High-school senior Evan’s life is crippled by social anxiety. His hard-working single mum barely has time for him, he’s got no mates to speak of, and his therapist keeps setting him homework. Then when one of his classmates Connor Murphy dies by suicide, a chink of light unexpectedly cracks through his depression, as an unlikely chain of events leads him to claiming that they were best friends in order to emotionally support the grieving family. Continue reading “Review: Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre”

Review: Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre

Someone clearly has too much time on their hands…enjoy the wordplay in this review of this spectcular revival of Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre

“Um-dittle-ittl-um-dittle-I
Um-dittle-ittl-um-dittle-I”

Strallens to the fore,
umbrellas at the ready,
penguins…well we won’t mention them. Making its return to the Prince
Edward Theatre where it debuted in 2004, this
revival of
classic musical Mary Poppins
arrives at just the right time to
lift our spirits as the nights start to draw
in and politicians spout
falsehood after falsehood to further darken our nights. And there’s a
rollicking good time to be had here
as the show recalls the
good old days of easy-going entertainment.
In the
leading role, Zizi Strallen
is a constant delight as the
stern nanny with just the right amount of
twinkle in her eye as she alights upon the Banks’ household. Vocally, she
is impressive too, whether rebuffing
Charlie Stemp’s charmingly flirtatious Bert whose
enormous perma-grin may or may not be the result of
xanax
pills.
In the roles of the domestic staff, Claire Machin
and Jack North get many a
laugh and
if George Banks isn’t the  
dad of your dreams, Joseph Millson pretty much is.
Obviously
children play a big part
in this world and the pair
of tykes I saw this evening were
unusually
sweet and sour as their characters are much naughtier than the film. Continue reading “Review: Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre”

Album Review: Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Original Cast Recording

The Original Cast Recording of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical captures much of what makes the show work so well, not least Adrienne Warren’s sensational lead performance

“Hot whispers in the night
I’m captured by your spell”

As Tina – The Tina Turner Musical opens on Broadway, what better time to take a look at the Original Cast Recording, which is now available worldwide – to stream, download or order the CD, then visit Ghostlight Records here. The show opened in the West End last year and while I may not have loved the book unconditionally, there is no denying the 24 carat gold quality of the score with its selection from Turner’s frankly amazing back catalogue which spans rock’n’roll to rhythm’n’blues to pop to straight up soul.

Rather cannily, the Broadway production has retained the lead from the West End production as Adrienne Warren deservedly took the lion’s share of the plaudits. And it is her personality, allied to that rip-roaring voice, that shines through this cast recording, elevating it from the mere karaoke of way too many other jukebox show cast recordings. Listen to the passion of the moan that opens ‘A Fool in Love’, the hunger of ‘Better Be Good to Me’, the aching tenderness of ‘I Don’t Wanna Fight’ – this is a star-making performance. Continue reading “Album Review: Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Original Cast Recording”

Not-a-re-review: Death of a Salesman, Piccadilly Theatre

This striking reinterpretation of Death of a Salesman raises the roof at the Piccadilly Theatre, it literally brings the house down…

“I don’t say he’s a great man…but he’s a human being”

Gonna be a bit cheeky with this, as I got to go the West End transfer of Death of a Salesman as a guest. And even though I loved it at the Young Vic, I didn’t particularly feel inclined to write about it again, in this slightly recast version co-directed by Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell. So check back for that previous review and rest assured that it is a corking night at the theatre.

Running time: 3 hours (with interval)
Photos: Brinkhoff Mogenburg
Death of a Salesman is booking at the Piccadilly Theatre until 4th January

The 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Shortlist announced

Proper award season is starting to kick into gear now with the reveal of the shortlist for the 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards and an uncharacteristically strong set of nominations that will surprise a fair few. I had little love for Sweet Charity so I’d’ve bumped its nod for something else but generally speaking, I’m loving the love for Dorfman shows and the Royal Court and I hate the reminder that there’s a couple of things I mistakenly decided not to see (Out of Water, …kylie jenner)

BEST ACTOR in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group
K. Todd Freeman Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Francis Guinan Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Tom Hiddleston Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre
Wendell Pierce Death of a Salesman, Young Vic & Piccadilly
Andrew Scott Present Laughter, Old Vic

NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS in partnership with Christian Louboutin
Hayley Atwell Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s
Cecilia Noble Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman) & Faith, Hope and Charity, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Dame Maggie Smith A German Life, Bridge
Juliet Stevenson The Doctor, Almeida
Anjana Vasan A Doll’s House, Lyric Hammersmith Continue reading “The 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Shortlist announced”

Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre

I’d intended to let Bitter Wheat languish unthought-about forever more but last week’s Harvey Weinstein episode provoked this

Amber Anderson,
Lysette Anthony,
Asia Argento,
Rosanna Arquette,
Jessica Barth,
Kate Beckinsale,
Zoë Brock,
Juls Bindi,
Cynthia Burr,
Cate Blanchett,
Liza Campbell,
Alexandra Canosa,
Rowena Chiu,
Marisa Coughlan,
Emma de Caunes,
Hope Exiner d’Amore,
Florence Darel,
Cara Delevingne,
Paz de la Huerta,
Juliana De Paula,
Sophie Dix,
Lacey Dorn,
Kaitlin Doubleday,
Caitlin Dulaney,
Dawn Dunning,
Lina Esco,
Alice Evans,
Lucia Evans, formerly Lucia Stoller,
Angie Everhart,
Claire Forlani,
Romola Garai,
Louisette Geiss,
Louise Godbold,
Judith Godrèche,
Trish Goff,
Larissa Gomes,
Heather Graham,
Eva Green,
Ambra Gutierrez, formerly Ambra Battilana,
Mimi Haleyi,
Daryl Hannah,
Salma Hayek,
Lena Headey,
Anne Heche,
Lauren Holly,
Dominique Huett,
Amy Israel,
Angelina Jolie,
Ashley Judd,
Minka Kelly,
Katherine Kendall,
Heather Kerr,
Mia Kirshner,
Myleene Klass,
Emma Loman (alias),
Laura Madden,
Natassia Malthe,
Julianna Margulies,
Brit Marling,
Sarah Ann Masse,
Ashley Matthau,
Rose McGowan,
Natalie Mendoza,
Sophie Morris,
Katya Mtsitouridze,
Emily Nestor,
Jennifer Siebel Newsom,
Connie Nielsen,
Kadian Noble,
Lupita Nyong’o,
Lauren O’Connor,
Gwyneth Paltrow,
Samantha Panagrosso,
Zelda Perkins,
Vu Thu Phuong,
Sarah Polley,
Monica Potter,
Tomi-Ann Roberts,
Lisa Rose,
Erika Rosenbaum,
Melissa Sagemiller,
Annabella Sciorra,
Léa Seydoux,
Lauren Sivan,
Chelsea Skidmore,
Mira Sorvino,
Tara Subkoff,
Melissa Thompson
Uma Thurman,
Paula Wachowiak,
Paula Williams,
Sean Young

Continue reading “Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre”

Winners of the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards

An important addition to the theatre award calendar, the winners of the inaugural Black British Theatre Awards can be found below

Creatives Group

BEST DIRECTOR FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
WINNER – Lynette Linton; Sweat: Gielgud Theatre
Roy Alexander Weise; Nine Night: National Theatre
Nancy Medina; The Half God of Rainfall: Kiln Theatre

BEST PRODUCER
WINNER – Tobi Kyeremateng; Babylon Festival: Bush Theatre

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER 
SPONSORED BY HARLEQUIN FLOORS
Rachael Nanayonjo; Sleeping Beauty: Theatre Royal Stratford East
Alesandra Seutin; Boy Breaking Glass: Sadlers Wells
WINNER – Shelley Maxwell; Equus: Theatre Royal Stratford East Continue reading “Winners of the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards”

Review: Lungs, Old Vic Theatre

Claire Foy and Matt Smith excel in a welcome revival of Duncan Macmillan’s climate change/relationship drama Lungs at the Old Vic Theatre

“Let’s get home and drink some gin and pretend I never said anything'”

Well, who’d’ve thought it? A chance to see the second best play of 2012 once again with some real luxury casting this time around. Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs toured the UK as part of one of Paines Plough’s Roundabout seasons (and marked the moment Kate O’Flynn properly burst into my consciousness) and now it has resurfaced at the Old Vic, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith, who are obviously at a loose end now that The Crown has forced them to regenerate into Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies. Have a read of my 5 star review for Offical Theatre here.

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Helen Maybanks
Lungs is booking at the Old Vic Theatre until 9th November

September theatre round-up

A quick round-up of the rest of September’s shows

Mary Said What She Said, aka how far I will go for Isabelle Huppert
The Provoked Wife, aka how far I will go for Alexandra Gilbreath
A Doll’s House, aka if we must have more Ibsen, at least it is like this
Falsettos, aka finding the right way, for me, to respond
The Comedy Grotto, aka a sneaky peak at Joseph Morpurgo
The Life I Lead, aka it was a preview so I shouldn’t say anything
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, aka well why not go again Continue reading “September theatre round-up”