Review: Evita, Phoenix

“What’s new, Buenos Aires?”

As the ‘new’ is ushered out of the Phoenix, set to tour the UK from next summer, there’s a return to the tried and tested, the old if you will, as Evita returns to the West End. Bill Kenwright and Bob Thompson’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s slice of Argentinian politics has been touring on and off for nearly 10 years now and it was actually in London at the Dominion just a couple of years ago.

So in some ways it can be a little hard to get too excited by the reappearance of such a stalwart, especially when there isn’t the presence of someone like Elena Roger to truly electrify the show as she did in the 2006 revival. That’s not to detract from Emma Hatton’s stirring performance here – subtle and characterful, always searching for the meaning rather than the big belt in this notoriously tricky of roles to sing. Continue reading “Review: Evita, Phoenix”

Album Review: The Three Little Pigs

“The world is perfect, perfect, perfect for a pig!”

Listening to their newly released cast recording of Goldilocks And The Three Bears, I was reminded that I have had Stiles and Drewe’s The Three Little Pigs on my ‘to listen to’ pile for ages now and with a theatrical production about to start at the Palace Theatre, what better time than now to finally get round to it. 

A response to a commission from Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Little Company, The Three Little Pigs is the first in Stiles & Drewe’s fairytale-based Trilogy of Trios – the bears are the second instalment and next year should see The Three Billy Goats Gruff receive the same family-friendly treatment. Continue reading “Album Review: The Three Little Pigs”

Review: You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard

“I really don’t think you have anything to worry about Charlie Brown”

Out in West London, the Tabard is a theatre that hasn’t really managed to work its way into my regular theatregoing: I’ve enjoyed things there, last Christmas’ Just So in particular, but it’s always been a bit on the wrong side of town for me to merit multiple trips, the nature of fringe theatre being essentially so variable.

But an interesting looking cast for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown meant that I made the trip to Turnham Green once more. A musical comedy based on the famous Peanuts comedy strip, this is a revised version of the show by Clark Gesner, with additional songs and dialogue from Michael Mayer and Andrew Lippa and in another factor that convinced me to go, is directed by Anthony Drewe. Continue reading “Review: You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard”

Review: Just So, Tabard

“Why are those things you admire most in others the hardest to find in yourself?”
 

Stiles+Drewe occupy a funny place for me: a musical writing pair, I’ve several of their soundtracks in my collection as well as their West End concert and I’ve been to a charity gig they hosted this year but I have never actually seen a show they have written. Fortunately, the Tabard Theatre took it upon themselves to rectify this by putting on a production of Just So.

Written in the mid 1980s by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics), this is actually the professional London premiere of this show after a successful 2006 revival in Chichester which featured Julie Atherton. Director Andrew Keates has aimed big with this production, the biggest ever at the Tabard, which celebrates both the 25th anniversary of the show and the Tabard itself.

Just So pulls together five of Rudyard Kipling’s famous stories into one epic journey through the jungle as the Elephant’s Child and the Kolokolo Bird, guided by the wise Eldest Magician, travel together to stop the evil crab Pau Amma from flooding everything and on the way meet all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures as they learn to face their fears, be truly courageous and the real value of friendship. With a live band and a cast of eleven, the story is brought vividly to life on the stage of the Tabard in what makes for a most entertaining family musical. Continue reading “Review: Just So, Tabard”