Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)
Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre
The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions. A truly joyous and momentous occasion.
A trio of album reviews cover the (relatively) recently released cast recordings of Company, Follies and Mythic
“One more souvenir of bliss”
I adored Marianne Elliott’s reinterpretation of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Companyon my many visits and so the news of a cast recording was of course ecstatically received. And perhaps inevitably it doesn’t quite live up to the thrill of seeing it live but maybe that’s because the production is still so fresh in my mind. I mean we’re only talking a 4 instead of a 4.5…
I swear Patti LuPone’s ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ was different every time I saw it but this version here is as good as any, with the glorious fullness of her voice pointedly sharpening its wit. Her contributions to ‘The Little Things We Do Together’ are inspired, Jonny Bailey’s ‘Not Getting Married’ is breathlessly affecting and the warmth of Rosalie Craig’s character and voice infuse the whole experience with real quality. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Company / Follies / Mythic”
Just the one more trip to see the glorious Company at the Gielgud Theatre before it sadly depart
“You can’t stay in your thirties forever”
I went back, again. Well I had to, at least while the above quote is still true for me for a couple more months. There’s not much left to say about Company that I haven’t said already here, or here, or here and it remains an absolute pleasure to watch, a show I could sit through time and time again even more so than I have already. It will be very much missed.
And I do think it really has gotten better as the run has progressed, performances deepened and matured, but also deliciously playful – I swear the magnificently brassy Patti Lupone has done something different every single time and it has been wonderful for it. It will be fascinating to see how Marianne Elliot’s production fares on Broadway and who, if anyone, transfers with it. Continue reading “Yet-another-re-review: Company, Gielgud Theatre”
I can’t keep away from Marianne Elliott’s award-winning Company, and it richly repays the rewatching
“A festive atmosphere pervades the room”
Hot on the heels of its double Evening Standard-award winning weekend, Company remains in sparkingly good form. And from the seats in the dress circle box (a bargainous £20 if you can find ’em), the slightly restricted view matters not a jot as the extreme proximity means you have something of the intimacy of watching a show at the Donmar. Which in a show of this quality means that there’s all sorts of detail that you can see, which isn’t immediately apparent from the back of the stalls.
As if you needed more convincing, here’s another 5 star review of this superlative re-imagining of Sondheim’s Company
“Everything’s different, nothing’s changed. Only maybe slightly rearranged”
From the moment Marianne Elliott’s new production of Companystarted, I knew that it wouldn’t be something I only saw once. Indeed, by the time we’d reached press night, that was my third time at the show! And now that an extension through to the end of March has been announced, there’s never been a better time to get booking. Read my 5 star review of Company for Official Theatre here.
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval) Photo: Brinkhoff Mogenburg Company is booking at the Gielgud Theatre until 30th March
The company of Company are simply sensational at the Gielgud Theatre – Rosalie Craig, Patti LuPone, Jonny Bailey…just book now!
“Everyone adores you, what an awful thing”
Phone rings, door chimes, in comes an adaptation of Company that subtly but definitively realigns it for a contemporary audience and makes you wonder how you could ever go back to the original as is. Marianne Elliott’s reworking is most notable for the regendering of its lead character – Bobby becomes Bobbie in the extraordinary hands of Rosalie Craig – but the changes it makes filter right down through the show, reflecting the changes in society since the show was written in 1970.
Sometimes it is overt. Amy becomes Jamie here, and Jonathan Bailey’s show-stopping delivery of ‘Getting Married Today’ (seriously, best priest in a show, ever) is underscored by the fact that gay marriage is a thing now. Less obvious is the switching of roles for Susan and Peter, she’s the professional go-getter and he’s the one who faints at the sight of blood. And even Larry becoming something of a toyboy for Joanne speaks towards an important rebuttal of the kinds of cultural stereotype that have been allowed to persist. Continue reading “Review: Company, Gielgud”
“Sometimes being subtle doesn’t have the desired effect”
mirror on the wall’, ‘the mirror crack’d from side to side’, ‘it’s like you’re my mirror’, there’s many a mirror that has gone down in fame but in its current form, new musical The Mirror Never Lies doesn’t look set to join them. Based on the Barbara Pym novel The Sweet Dove Died and a clear labour of love for bookwriter, lyricist and director Joseph – with music by Juan Iglesias – it is ill-served by this flimsy production.
The plot certainly has potential. Set in the swinging Sixties of Carnaby Street, girl-about-town Leonora is struggling to come to terms with the realities of middle age. When handsome young university student James drops into her life, she sets herself to making him hers, but she has stiff competition first in fellow student Phoebe and then in lascivious American Ned who brings out James’ bisexual side.
Then there’s James’ Uncle Humphrey – Leonora’s contemporary – who has set his eye on her and whose attentions she has to constantly bat away, despite him being more conventionally ‘suitable’. But there’s far too little narrative tension, scant characterisation to make us care or humour to make us laugh, and songs that fail to make the most of the period influence or offer any lyrical depth – put simply, the show never makes the case for why it should be a musical.
Part of the problem lies in the way the space of the Cockpit has been used. Stretched across a wide space and going up into the balcony too (ill-advisedly, since people on that side miss out entirely on what happening above them) fatally exposes the bare bones (the set consists of about 8 office chairs arranged in three groups), where using a staged or semi-staged format would have been entirely more suitable for this fledgling work.
There are bright spots – Francesca Ellis’ brittle Leonora has a belter of a final number with the title track and from there, a more vivaciously engaging take on the character could be reverse-engineered. And Spencer O’Brien (who I saw do great stuff in Ghostas an understudy) nails his horny Yank with a wonderfully flirtatious performance, a rare moment of real theatre. But this is a production where the majority of one song gets sung off-stage to people sat round a dinner table on-stage because…well who knows, the mirror never lies.