Re-review: All change on the Strand for Dreamgirls and Kinky Boots

All change on the Strand for Dreamgirls and Kinky Boots post closing notices at the Savoy Theatre and Adelphi Theatre respectively, and I revisit both.

“Never let ‘em tell you who you ought to be
Just be”

Come mid-January, the Strand will look a fair bit different for theatregoers as both Kinky Boots and Dreamgirls have posted advance closing notices, leaving the Adelphi and the Savoy respectively on the same date, Saturday 12th January.  As sad as it is to see any show close though, both of these musicals have had a fairly decent run (Kinky Boots opened in August 2015, making it nearly 3 and a half years; Dreamgirls in November 2016, reaching two) and given how merciless the commercial market can be, I think both productions can hold their head up high with their West End runs.

And getting ahead of the game with those closing notices means that people still have many the opportunity to catch either or both of these shows before the final curtain. (I should add too, that both shows have announced that they will be touring the UK going into 2019.) I’ve paid both a revisit relatively recently and am happy to report that they both remain well worth seeing, due to some mighty fine performance. Oliver Tompsett has only just stepped into the role of Charlie Price but he is nigh-on perfect casting and his majestic voice suits Cyndi Lauper’s score down to a T and he’s clearly getting on well with Simon-Anthony Rhoden’s impressive Lola. Continue reading “Re-review: All change on the Strand for Dreamgirls and Kinky Boots”

EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)

“You won’t be my angel”
I won’t be your guy

2010 EP Quiet by Tony winner Gavin Creel is really rather lovely indeed. Six tracks of acoustically-inclined folk pop co-written with Robbie Roth, it is a short but sweet album of real heart that emphasises the musicality of this musical theatre star, and also shows a wise progression from his first album. And if we’re to believe the lyrics here, that heart is a substantially bruised one which works out very well for fans of a melancholy ballad.

Such fans are particularly well served by the opening pair of tracks. The delicate ‘Green To Grey’ and the plaintive reality check of ‘Love Fell Down’ are desperately heartfelt and beautifully moving as Creel allows a husky tenderness to colour his voice to gorgeous effect. The collection is intelligently sequenced too, allowing a note of hope to creep in with the late realisation of ‘Small Words’ and the gentle humour of closer ‘Hot Ohio’.  Continue reading “EP Reviews: Gavin Creel – Quiet (2010) / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity (2013)”

Review: Another Night Before Christmas, Bridge House

“Would it help if you sat on my lap?”

My
 decision not to see many festively-themed shows this year ran into my commitment to supporting new musical theatre writing as far as Another Night Before Christmas was concerned, so it was a rare trip down to the Bridge House Theatre in Penge for this. With book and lyrics by Sean Grennan and music by Leah Okimoto and a rare talent for attracting a top-notch cast – this two-hander stars Olivier award-winning George Maguire and Rachael Wooding – the scene is set for this alternative festive fare.

Though it has to be said, it doesn’t prove to be that different in the end. Social worker Carole manages one last act of kindness on her way home from her work Christmas do, but her plans to flop on the sofa and do nothing on Christmas Eve are well and truly disrupted by a visitor. For the man she gave the party leftovers to has rocked up on her doorstop and is claiming that he is, well, Father Christmas himself. Unable to turf him out into the cold, she soon finds him trying to whittle away at her cynicism and getting her to believe.
So it’s a bit formulaic to say the least, but Guy Rettalack’s production is also very good-natured and that takes it a long way. Okimoto’s score swings with jazzy inflection and a good deal of humour, especially in the song ‘Kill Der Bingle’, and Grennan’s script is also full of laughs, many of them cheesy but hey, it’s the season for it. And Wooding and Maguire both work the intimacy of this pub theatre well, two strong voices and plenty of charisma for days, they might just make a believer out of the biggest of Scrooges.

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Booking until 23rd December

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Next week sees the 9th Gay Art Festival GFEST start, an eclectic showcase of art, films, and performance work by LGBTQI artists from London, UK and beyond. There’s all sorts to choose from – full details here – with this year’s theme being OUT [in the Margins] and some of the things piquing my interest are European films Jonathan and Brothers of the Night, at Rich Mix and Arthouse Crouch End respectively, and trans documentary The Pearl on at Rich Mix on 15th November. You might be interested in their performance night at the RADA Studio on the 19th November too, a 2 hour double bill of LGBTQI music and dance narratives. Visit their website at www.gaywisefestival.org.uk. Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

CD Review: Oliver Tompsett –Sentimental Heart (2007)

“It’s like a rollercoaster”

Oliver Tompsett is currently rolling his dice 8 times a week in Guys and Dolls but across his career, he’s also stretched his singer-songwriter muscle, releasing a self-produced album called Sentimental Heart back in 2007. Containing 12 songs written by him, including a duet with Ashleigh Gray, it’s an impressively diverse album which incorporates a wide range of influences along its central pop-rock axis.

Opening with the relaxed funk of the title track then quickly moving to the upbeat vibe of ‘Femme Fatale’ establishes the general mood of uplifting fun – it’s impossible not to bop your head along to the infectious chorus of ‘Come On Back’ and the brassy musicality of ‘Rollercoaster’ feels like it could easily fit in with any of the songs in The Commitments.

He’s really quite affecting in the quieter moments too – the gently strummed ‘Fell In Love’ is just lovely, ‘Love You All Over Again’ is just a puff of dry ice away from being an epic power ballad but works beautifully with the restraint exercised here. And that duet with Gray, ‘Count On Me’, does the trick perfectly, their vocals intertwining intricately with skill.

If there’s any complaint, one could say that you don’t always get the strongest sense of musical identity from Tompsett’s songwriting, a consequence of the variety here and the lack of follow-up album, but it’s a small bugbear for what is otherwise an enjoyable listen.

Brexited Review: Guys and Dolls, Phoenix

What a collection of Guys and Dolls eh

Rebel Wilson is actually hugely successful as Miss Adelaide, finding the perfect balance between playing the role as written and bringing enough of her own personality to firmly put her stamp on the part. An impressive West End debut. As for this motley crew, someone should tell them to sit down, sit down, sit down…

Turns out luck really is a lady tonight.

Re-review: Guys and Dolls, Phoenix

“Follow the fold and stray no more”

In the merry-go-round of theatres and shows and transfers and tours, the success of the West End transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Guys and Dolls has seen it divide itself in two – the promised UK tour will go ahead through to the summer but the show remains in the West End as well, skipping from the Savoy to the Phoenix to replace the outgoing Bend it like Beckham

It’s my third time at the show. I saw the original run in Chichester and the transfer to the Savoy and hadn’t planned to return. But as ever, the lure of the recast leads sucked me in. Siubhan Harrison remains with the company but with Samantha Spiro, Oliver Tompsett and US actor Richard Kind joining the team (plus the excellent Jason Pennycooke), my barely-there resistance melted away. Continue reading “Re-review: Guys and Dolls, Phoenix”

Review: The World Goes Round, Pheasantry

“What dancing in the park? What laughter in the dark?”

I always find it hard to write much about cabarets that doesn’t just end up as a list of the songs sung, so I’m keeping it short for this one. With the extensive tour of Anything Goes shortened by economic necessity, opportunities to see its leading lady Debbie Kurup again have become available sooner rather than later which has proven something of a bonus. She’ll be in Rhythm of Life, a Cy Coleman celebration later this week but right now she is delving into the work of John Kander and Fred Ebb in The World Goes Round, a cabaret first put together in 1991.

It cherry-picks from a wide range of Kander and Ebb’s collaborations, for film and TV as well as stage, and digs deep into the catalogue to feature lesser known shows like The Happy Time and The Act as well as the marquee numbers like Cabaret and Chicago. And as such it makes for an interesting journey through some brilliant songwriting and in the intimate surroundings of The Pheasantry in this Speckulation Entertainments prodiction, some excellent musicianship from the band of three led by Kris Rawlinson. Continue reading “Review: The World Goes Round, Pheasantry”

CD Review: Scott Alan Live

“And there it is…”
 
For a composer who hasn’t had a major show on over here, Scott Alan inspires an amazing amount of evangelical joy from his fans. This has come from a series of albums and concerts in which his songwriting has been showcased by a wide-ranging collection of Broadway and West End stars, culminating in a rapturously received residency at the St James Theatre a couple of months ago. I like his work, having previously reviewed a couple of his albums, but I haven’t been as ecstatic as some about it so I thought I’d go back to the ones I hadn’t listened to. 
 
His double album Live offers reworkings of many of his songs and mixes things up further by retaining many of his frequent collaborators but letting them loose on different songs, even switching up genders on some of them. It’s a great move – Natalie Weiss smashes the joyful ‘I’m A Star’, Laura Osnes wraps her delicate voice beautifully around ‘Now’ and Jeremy Jordan is charming as ever on ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ and that’s all in the opening five songs. The slightly indulgent length of the album means we don’t always maintain such intense quality over both discs plus bonus tracks.

Continue reading “CD Review: Scott Alan Live”