CD Review: The Music Box – the music and songs of Gareth Peter Dicks

I find it hard to resist certain things, and albums showcasing new musical theatre writing with all-star ensembles singing them have been a particular weakness for me this year. The latest temptation was Gareth Peter Dick’s debut album The Music Box which I liked the look of mainly because it was nice to see a rather different line-up of singers rather than the usual suspects lining up and names like Richard Dempsey, Laura Pitt-Pulford and Katie Rowley Jones got me to part with my money quite easily.

Dick is a Nottingham-based composer who has a range of diverse projects on the go: Ancient Egypt, Jack the Ripper and wartime dramas all seem to feature in shows, though I’m not sure how widely they’ve been produced and his was a new name to me. But one I was instantly intrigued by and could well be one to look out for. His rather eclectic musical palate takes in driving power ballads, Gothic pop numbers and some atmospheric instrumental pieces and creates an album that is undeniably a tiny bit insane, but really rather entertaining with it. Continue reading “CD Review: The Music Box – the music and songs of Gareth Peter Dicks”

CD Review: Self Taught; Still Learning – The Music of Chris Passey

“How would you feel if you were me?”

Self Taught; Still Learning – The Music of Chris Passey is a collection of songs by new West Midlands composer Passey that enters the ever-growing list of albums showcasing new musical theatre writing sung by a range of West End stars. Many of these songs are taken from a concept musical called Bridges but others were written especially for the album and for the singers who agreed to perform. And in a nice touch, the profits from this CD are being split between the two charities MS Society and Cancer Research.

Which makes it a little sad to say that this is not an album that I particularly loved, something about it just didn’t click with me and despite a few listens, it isn’t a collection that feels destined to get repeat plays in this household. Things get off to a shaky start anyway with an intro by “YouTube’s Miranda Sings” – of whose schtick I’m not a fan and feeling a little at odds as a way to introduce this album and her performance of a song at the end feels rather misjudged even if it is just a bonus track- it is one joke stretched thinly and I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to listen to more than 15 seconds of it. Continue reading “CD Review: Self Taught; Still Learning – The Music of Chris Passey”

Re-review: Les Misérables, Queens

“Who is this man, what sort of devil is he?”

An unscheduled visit back to this old stalwart for me as I took a friend’s last minute spare albeit with not just a little hesitation: the cult of Alfie Boe has not quite won me over yet… Les Misérables has been one of those shows that has present in my life for as long as I can remember really, having seen it countless times but my love for it had become a little comfortable, a little by rote, and so it was most lovely to have the truly fantastic 25th Anniversary touring production last year remind me just why I felt this way about the show, seeing it at the Barbican really was one of the highlights of my year. What was remarkable was that it played in conjunction with the West End production at the Queen’s so there were two versions running in London at the same time, all topped off with a pair of celebratory concerts at the O2.

Keen to keep the momentum going with this show and responding to how well-received the anniversary activity was, producer Cameron Mackintosh has instigated something of an overhaul to the West End production, hoping to transfer some of that energy and freshness by incorporating the new orchestrations, increasing the size of the orchestra back up to 14 and a cast change which brings back some familiar faces (in new roles) and also allowing some of the new faces – Alfie Boe, Matt Lucas – from the concert to play the roles for real this time. Continue reading “Re-review: Les Misérables, Queens”

fosterIAN awards 2010

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayMichelle Terry, TribesNancy Carroll, After the DanceZoë Wanamaker, All My Sons
Helen McCrory, The Late Middle Classes
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park
Best Actor in a PlayJohn Heffernan, Love Love LoveBenedict Cumberbatch, After the DanceJacob Casselden, Tribes
David Suchet, All My Sons
Roger Allam, Henry IV Part I + II
Andrew Scott, Design for Living
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayRachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Rose, Kingston)Jemima Rooper, All My SonsJessica Raine, Earthquakes in London
Sylvestra Le Touzel, Les Parents Terribles
Clare Higgins, Hamlet (NT)
Madeleine Potter, Broken Glass
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayRobin Soans, Palace of the EndNigel Lindsay, Broken GlassAdrian Scarborough, After the Dance
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Stephen Campbell Moore, All My Sons
William Gaunt, Henry IV Part I + II
Best Actress in a MusicalTracie Bennett, End of the RainbowEmma Williams, Love StoryCora Bissett, Midsummer
Sheridan Smith, Legally Blonde
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Best Actor in a MusicalSam Harrison, Salad DaysJon-Paul Hevey, Once Upon a Time at the AdelphiJohn Owen-Jones, Les Misérables
Alan Richardson, Iolanthe
Matthew Pidgeon, Midsummer
Dean Charles Chapman, Billy Elliot
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalHannah Waddingham, Into the WoodsJodie Jacobs, State FairKaren Mann, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Siobhan McCarthy, The Drowsy Chaperone
Jill Halfpenny, Legally Blonde
Twinnie Lee Moore, Flashdance
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalMichael Xavier, Into the WoodsMatthew James Willis, IolantheTom Parsons, Avenue Q
Michael Howe, The Drowsy Chaperone
Liam Tamne, Departure Lounge
Earl Carpenter, Les Misérables

2010 Best Supporting Actor in a Play & in a Musical


Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Robin Soans, Palace of the End
One of the beauties of this year of relentless theatre-going has been the occasional absolute diamond that has emerged. And in a play that simply blew me away most unexpectedly, in this case Palace of the End at the Arcola, Robin Soans as weapons inspector David Kelly delivered one of the most searingly intense monologues I have ever witnessed. Brutal in its unflinching honesty, captivating with his unwavering gaze, this was simply breathtaking acting: at times difficult to watch but impossible to ignore. I don’t know what Soans’ plans for 2011 are, but rest assured I’ll be trying my best to see him no matter where.

Honourable Mention: Nigel Lindsay, Broken Glass
This was such a tight category for me to decide, all of these actors really did impress me but sneaking into second place (after a little time at the top) is Nigel Lindsay in Broken Glass. His turn as the extremely charming and most excellently booted GP who struggled to maintain his professional detachment from the strangely alluring Sylvia provided a magnificent contrast to Antony Sher’s tightly coiled husband and it is a crying shame that the production wasn’t able to transfer to a larger theatre to become more widely seen as it surely deserved. It was also notable as the last chance to see Lindsay flex his thespian muscles more clearly as he will be submitting to daily green makeovers as he takes on the lead role in Shrek the Musical from May.

Adrian Scarborough, After the Dance
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Stephen Campbell Moore, All My Sons
William Gaunt, Henry IV Part I + II

7-10
Leo Bill, Posh/The Glass Menagerie; Dominic Tighe, Richard III; Henry Lloyd Hughes, Rope/Posh; Angus Wright, Design for Living

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Michael Xavier, Into the Woods
Anyone who can sing ‘Hello little girl’ with charm and allure and not come across like too much of a paedophile should be commended, and in Into The Woods, Michael Xavier managed just that as the Wolf and doubling up as Cinderella’s Prince, added a restless swashbuckling charm (and a much-welcomed sexy swagger) to the chilly night at the Open Air Theatre. Xavier can currently be seen in the utterly gorgeous Love Story at the Duchess, definitely a recommended visit.

Honourable Mention: Matthew James Willis, Iolanthe
Picking out one member of the Iolanthe cast initially felt a little churlish as I really did enjoy it all across the board, but as one half of a dusty old couple of dons discovering their love for each other, Willis was a delightful discovery. His Earl Tolloller was wonderfully sung as well as well acted and I really hope that he transfers with the production when it moves to Wilton’s Music Hall for a run there in the New Year.

Tom Parsons, Avenue Q
Michael Howe, The Drowsy Chaperone
Liam Tamne, Departure Lounge
Earl Carpenter, Les Misérables

7-10
Peter Polycarpou, Love Story; Samuel J Holmes, Pirates of Penzance; Jon Robyns, Les Misérables; Spencer O’Brien, Salad Days

Review: Departure Lounge, Waterloo East Theatre


“We’d like to shag your daughter; that’s what your daughter’s for”

Departure Lounge is a new musical by Dougal Irvine at the Waterloo East Theatre, a new theatre in the already hugely crowded Waterloo area, but it feels like a nice new space. A converted railway arch, the auditorium is a long, relatively narrow room and has the feel of the Old Vic Tunnels working space but with less damp and cold and slightly more comfortable seats. It is a show that has been long in gestation: Perfect Pitch Showcase winner in 2006, it has been workshopped under the name Unzipped!, it has had runs at the Edinburgh Festival and also in New York before arriving here at Waterloo East.

Four eighteen-year-old boys are stuck in Malaga airport after a post-A-levels but pre-results blowout holiday on the Costa del Sol, and whilst killing time they reminisce about the drink-fuelled antics of their week or at least they try to as it seems that they can’t agree on everything. Most of the confusions centres around the character of Sophie, with whom they have all had some kind of contact and through a flashback from each boy, they start to piece together what really happened and secrets start to tumble out in the airport. Continue reading “Review: Departure Lounge, Waterloo East Theatre”

Review: Hair, Gielgud Theatre


“Gliddy gloop gloopy nibby nobby nooby la la la lo lo”

Bloody immigrants coming over here and stealing our jobs… The Gielgud Theatre finds itself taken over by the musical Hair, but in what is described as a history-making transfer of the entire original Broadway cast. This was also a first encounter for me with this musical: I’ve never seen it or knowingly heard anything from it either, indeed when I mentioned this to people this week, they all proceeded to sing something about the age of Aquarius at me which rang precisely no bells whatsoever!

Hair is an examination of 1960s hippie culture, looking at a group of young adults struggling to define their identity in the face of generational pressures, the temptations of drugs and sex and most significantly, the dark shadow of the Vietnam War. The story as such that exists centres around Claude, a leader of sorts of the Tribe, a group of friends hooked on easy living with drugs and sex and who are all avowedly anti-war, determined to avoid being shipped to Vietnam. Claude’s sense of duty however means he is conflicted about the correct course of action for himself and it is his journey that drives the little narrative there is. Continue reading “Review: Hair, Gielgud Theatre”