Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

54 years is quite the wait for a sequel but Mary Poppins Returns is full of nostalgic sweetness and charm  

“Are you sure this is quite safe?
‘Not in the slightest. Ready!'”

54 years is quite the wait for a sequel but the sweetness and charm with which Mary Poppins Returns lands on our screens makes it pretty much worth it. It’s a film that does more than wrap you up in a warm blanket of nostalgia, it tucks you in, throws another log on the fire and makes you a steaming hot chocolate (no marshmallows though!).

Set 30 years after the much cherished original, the story (by David Magee, Rob Marshall and John DeLuca based off of PL Travers’s original tales) sees us rejoin Cherry Tree Lane where the adult Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lives with his young family (Pixie Davies, Nathaniel Saleh and Joel Dawson). But much like the other long-held sequel of the year, a sadness fills the house for a mother has died. And Michael’s artistic inclinations and part-time job at the bank aren’t bringing in enough to keep them from repossession. Who could possibly save the day…? Continue reading “Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)”

Album Review: The Visit (2015 original Broadway Cast Recording)

 “A ghost on a visit from the past”

The final musical written by Kander and Ebb together before the latter’s passing in 2004, The Visit has had a bit of a troubled history trying to make its way to Broadway. Original star Angela Lansbury having to withdraw due to her husband’s ill health, Chita Rivera stepping in but the hopes to transfer the out of town tryout in Autumn 2001 scuppered by the post 9/11 climate, consistent issues with financing…

But Rivera stuck with the show through various readings, concerts and mini-runs, culminating in a new one-act version directed by John Doyle, which eventually landed at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway for not even two months. Musicals – who’d do em?! Fortunately though, this cast recording was created to help its legacy live on and hopefully, one imagines, inspire Thom Southerland to put on a production over here sometime soon! Continue reading “Album Review: The Visit (2015 original Broadway Cast Recording)”

2015 Laurence Olivier Awards winners

Best New Play 
King Charles III by Mike Bartlett – Almeida / Wyndham’s
Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst – Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Nether by Jennifer Haley – Duke of York’s
Wolf Hall / Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, adapted by Mike Poulton – Aldwych

Best New Musical
Sunny Afternoon – Hampstead / Harold Pinter
Beautiful – Aldwych
Here Lies Love – National Theatre Dorfman
Memphis – Shaftesbury

Best Revival 
A View from the Bridge – Young Vic / Wyndham’s
A Streetcar Named Desire – Young Vic
My Night with Reg – Donmar Warehouse / Apollo
Skylight – Wyndham’s
The Crucible – Old Vic Continue reading “2015 Laurence Olivier Awards winners”

2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
King Charles III by Mike Bartlett – Almeida / Wyndham’s
Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst – Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Nether by Jennifer Haley – Duke of York’s
Wolf Hall / Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, adapted by Mike Poulton – Aldwych

Best New Musical
Beautiful – Aldwych
Here Lies Love – National Theatre Dorfman
Memphis – Shaftesbury
Sunny Afternoon – Hampstead / Harold Pinter

Best Revival 
A Streetcar Named Desire – Young Vic
A View from the Bridge – Young Vic / Wyndham’s
My Night with Reg – Donmar Warehouse / Apollo
Skylight – Wyndham’s
The Crucible – Old Vic Continue reading “2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Saturday afternoon music treats

Last week’s post proved surprisingly popular so here’s another one for you. You can find below Gary Wood revisiting A Chorus Line with ‘What I Did For Love’, a preview from The Pajama Game with Michael Xavier & Joanna Riding singing ‘Hey There’, Shayne Ward & Louise Dearman giving their take on ‘Falling Slowly’ from Once, Angela Lansbury showing why her reputation is as it is with a lovely rendition of ‘Beauty & The Beast’ (though it still doesn’t excuse the applause on entry and standing o’s), and a clip of ‘I Can’t Sing’ which is mainly fascinating to those who have seen the show as it shows the amount of tinkering there has been. Continue reading “Saturday afternoon music treats”

Not-a-Review: Blithe Spirit, Gielgud

“I long ago came to the conclusion that nothing has ever been definitely proved about anything “

Less of a review (the show is still previewing) and more of a musing on ‘actor tourism’ which is surely the main reason for this umpteenth revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. The announcement of Angela Lansbury’s return to the London stage after nearly forty years was met with a surprisingly huge outpouring of excitement which subsequently went into overdrive with her elevation to damehood in the New Year. And such veneration is curious to observe when one is on the outside of it.

I think I missed the memo about Lansbury. I mean I’m pretty sure I’ve been in the same room when Murder She Wrote has been on but it was never something I’ve been enthusiastic about and in my personal pantheon of leading ladies, I have to say she is a long way off national treasure status. And clearly this will be controversial as evidenced from the audience in the Gielgud though – her arrival onstage was applauded, her exits were whooped, her curtain call garnering a considerable standing ovation. Continue reading “Not-a-Review: Blithe Spirit, Gielgud”

CD Review: A Little Night Music (NT vs Broadway Revival Cast recordings)

“Isn’t it bliss? Don’t you approve?”

I always assume that people know where the name of this blog came from but for those that don’t, it is a lyrical reference from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Which gives a seamless segue into this post about two cast recordings of the show – the first from the 1995 National Theatre production and the second from the 2010 Broadway revival. The first is most notable for capturing one of the greatest moments in musical theatre, possibly even theatre full stop.

Judi Dench’s extraordinary rendition of ‘Send in the Clowns’ may be close to becoming a party trick (if there’s a gala, she’ll be there) but it truly is a remarkable thing. The cracks in her voice are a perfect match for the ageing star that is Desirée and the speak-singing style allows her to act the hell out of the song – the way in which she sighs ‘weeeellllll’ near the end is just spine-tingling. 4 minutes 23 of pure perfection.   Continue reading “CD Review: A Little Night Music (NT vs Broadway Revival Cast recordings)”

64th Tony Award nominations

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play 
Jude Law – Hamlet as Hamlet
Alfred Molina – Red as Mark Rothko
Liev Schreiber – A View from the Bridge as Eddie Carbone
Christopher Walken – A Behanding in Spokane as Carmichael
Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
Valerie Harper – Looped as Tallulah Bankhead
Linda Lavin – Collected Stories as Ruth Steiner
Laura Linney – Time Stands Still as Sarah Goodwin
Jan Maxwell – The Royal Family as Julie Cavendish

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical 
Kelsey Grammer – La Cage aux Folles as Georges
Douglas Hodge – La Cage aux Folles as Albin
Sean Hayes – Promises, Promises as Chuck Baxter
Chad Kimball – Memphis as Huey Calhoun
Sahr Ngaujah – Fela! as Fela Kuti Continue reading “64th Tony Award nominations”

63rd Tony Award winners

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play 
Geoffrey Rush – Exit the King as King Berenger
Jeff Daniels – God of Carnage as Alan
Raúl Esparza – Speed-the-Plow as Charlie Fox
James Gandolfini – God of Carnage as Michael
Thomas Sadoski – reasons to be pretty as Greg

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Marcia Gay Harden – God of Carnage as Veronica
Hope Davis – God of Carnage as Annette
Jane Fonda – 33 Variations as Katherine Brandt
Janet McTeer – Mary Stuart as Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter – Mary Stuart as Elizabeth I

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical 
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish – Billy Elliot the Musical as Billy Elliot
Gavin Creel – Hair as Claude
Brian d’Arcy James – Shrek the Musical as Shrek
Constantine Maroulis – Rock of Ages as Drew
J. Robert Spencer – Next to Normal as Dan Continue reading “63rd Tony Award winners”