Album Review: Rachel Tucker – On The Road (Deluxe)

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

 

Proving that you don’t need to win the reality show that you’re in to set your career, and that it’s your talent that matters, Rachel Tucker’s success is testament to just how far hard work and a hella big voice can take. Headlining shows in the West End and Broadway, including playing Wicked’s Elphaba in both, 2017 has seen her play a series of dates on a UK tour with musical director Kris Rawlinson, which in turn produced an album – On The Road – which has recently been digitally released with some bonus tracks in a deluxe edition.
Reflecting the diversity of a live show, the record opens with a potency and confidence that could see her take her place among the Rat Pack as she swings confidently through classics like ‘Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today)’ and ‘The Candyman’. New musical theatre gets a look in with the searching emotion of Dear Evan Hansen’s ‘Waving Through A Window’ and then the intensity is dialled down for a moment with Randy Newman’s heartbreaker ‘When She Loved Me’.
And it’s a sense of variety that never lets up, from a finger-clicking, easy listening take on Oliver!’s ‘Where Is Love?’ to the growling determination of ‘That’s Life’ on which she partners with the marvellous Rebecca Trehearn. It means that highlights are many and mixed – the controlled fury of ‘The Man That Got Away’ is spine-tingling as is, in a completely different way, the haunting acapella take on Irish air ‘She Moved Through The Fair’
Personally, the restraint with which she explores new writing like ‘Another Life’ from Jason Robert Brown’s adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County is where she shines strongest. And we’re blessed with two numbers from Sara Bareilles’ gorgeously plangent score to Waitress (does this count as Tucker’s audition for Jenna…?!). ‘You Matter To Me’ sees her duet nicely with a good, if slightly too polite Lee Mead but she soars on ‘She Used To Me Mine’, all its fragility and self-doubt conveyed with utter conviction.
Naturally, there’s a nod to Wicked in a heavily re-arranged take on ‘No Good Deed’ but it is the subsequent ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, an astute bit of sequencing there, that lands with real heartfelt eloquence, rounding off an eclectic and entertaining collection (the less said about Ed Sheeran the better…). Rawlinson’s arrangements fit Tucker’s voice like a glove and the record has deservedly been nominated as one of CurtainUp’s solo albums of the year. You could do far worse than consider this as a stocking filler for the music fans in your life.
On The Road is available from iTunes here and is also on Spotify and Amazon Music

 

News: Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor All Stars album is released

The weather outside might be frightful but new musical theatre is always delightful, especially when it is festive-themed. Following a target-smashing Kickstarter campaign this October, Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor All Stars album is released today, just in time for the holiday season. Featuring performances by Olivier Award-winner Rebecca Trehearn, Jon Robyns, Tori Allen-Martin, the Italia Conti School Choir and many more, the album is packed full of music by selected winners and runners-up of Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor from 2013-16.


Xmas Factor is Iris Theatre’s annual showcase of the very best new musical theatre, around the theme of Christmas. Writers are invited to send in a song which is selected by the programming team to continue in the competition, culminating in a Panel Award and Audience Award at the concert. This year’s event, All Stars, features the best of those finalists from across the last four years, including winners and runners up of the two awards – all of which feature on the album. Songs cover an eclectic mix of themes from Korean festivities in ‘Christmas in Pyongyang’ to the best Yuletide movies in ‘Christmas Films Again’ and the thoughts of Jesus’s dad himself in ‘Joseph’s Lullaby’.
And as an Advent treat, you can listen to Trehearn’s gorgeous contribution to the album right here – ‘The Little Match Girl’ written by Darren Clark.

The album rounds off Iris Theatre’s 10th anniversary year, which began with the award for Best Production for Young People (8+) for Treasure Island (2016). This summer, Iris presented Macbeth and Hansel & Gretel, and 2018’s summer season will be announced soon.
You can buy the album here and it will be released digitally tomorrow (Saturday 2nd December) and to further whet the appetite, the full tracklisting is below.
1. All the Angels Sang
Music & Lyrics by Joanna Karselis
Lead Vocals: Tori Allen-Martin
Ensemble: Philippa Rose, Emma Morgan,David Fearn & Alvaro Flores
Additional Musical Arrangement, Musical Direction & Piano: Adam Gerber · 
Violin: Hannah Morgan
Cello: Rosalind Ford
2. The Angel at the Top of the Tree
Music & Lyrics by Darren Clark
Lead Vocals: Annabel King
Musical Direction & Piano: Michael Baxter
3. Joseph’s Lullaby
Music & Lyrics by Sandy Callaghan-Hooks
Lead Vocals: Jon Robyns
Ensemble: Philippa Rose, Emily Jane Kerr,
David Fearn & Oliver Stanley
Musical Direction & Piano: Adam Gerber

4. Christmas Swapping
Music by Luke Bateman · Lyrics by Mary Evans
Lead Vocals: Stephen Oliver-Webb & Emma Sewell
Musical Direction & Piano: Candida Caldicot
5. The Snow Goose Song
Music & Lyrics by Ben Heneghan & Ian Lawson
Lead Vocals: Kate Hume
Backing Vocals: Emma Morgan, Philippa Rose & Laura Wickham 
Musical Direction & Piano: Candida Caldicot
6. Christmas in Pyongyang
Music by Joanna Taylor · Lyrics by Al Muriel
Lead Vocals: Lucy Park
Musical Direction: Joanna Taylor · Piano: Tania Park ·
Violin: Maria Oguren
7. The Endless Song
Music by Marc Folan· Lyrics by Adey Grummet
Childrens’ Choir: Italia Conti School Choir
Adult Ensemble: Emma Morgan, Philippa Rose, Laura Wickham, David Fearn, Alvaro Flores & Guido Garcia Lueches
Musical Direction & Piano: Adam Gerber 
Flute: Liv Spence
8. The Little Match Girl
Music & Lyrics By Darren Clark
Lead Vocals: Rebecca Trehearn
Musical Direction & Piano: Adam Gerber · Violin: Hannah
Morgan · Cello: Rosalind Ford
9. The Christmas Table
Music by Luke Bateman · Lyrics by Mary Evans
Lead Vocals: Emma Sewell
Musical Direction & Piano: Candida Caldicot
Cello: Rachel Dawson
10. January Roars
Music by Stu Barter · Lyrics by Louise Ainsley
Lead Vocals: Richard Lowe
Backing Vocals: Annabel King & Jamie Lee Pike
Musical Direction & Piano: Michael Baxter
11. Holiday Hook Up
Music & Lyrics by Eden Tredwell
Additional Musical Arrangement by Gus Tredwell
Lead Vocals: Jamie Lee Pike
Musical Direction & Piano: Michael Baxter
12. The Beautiful Game
Music By Darren Clark· Lyrics by Richy Hughes
Lead Vocals: Nigel Richards, Oliver Stanley, David Fearn
Musical Direction & Piano: Adam Gerber
Violin: Hannah Morgan · Cello: Rosalind Ford · French Horn: Josh Sneesby
13. At Christmas
Music and Lyrics by Julie Das
Lead Vocals: Ruby Campbell
Backing Vocals: Emily Jane Kerr & Tiffany Parker
Musical Direction & Piano: Candida Caldicot
Cello: Rachel Dawson
14. Christmas Films Again
Music & Lyrics by Richard & Carol Campbell
Lead Vocals: Carol Campbell & Richard Campbell
All instruments performed & arranged by Richard Campbell

Cast announced for Bonnie and Clyde

Part of The Other Palace’s rebranding has been to establish it as an incubator for new musical theatre pieces and so it has been opening its doors for work-in-progress performances of shows like Heathers and Joybubbles. 
And in a couple of weeks we get Bonnie and Clyde – music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and a book by Ivan Menchell – which flopped on Broadway despite the best attempts of stars Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan. And rather excitingly, for this production, we get the talents of Evelyn Hoskins and Jamie Muscato in the leading roles.
They are joined by
Sam Ferriday (Ted)
Joshua Dever (Buck)
Rebecca Trehearn (Blanche)
Ako Mitchell (Preacher/Ensemble)
Amy Booth-Steel (Clyde’s Mother / Governor/ Ensemble)
Nicolas Colicos (Clyde’s Father/ Ensemble)
Rebecca Lock (Emma Parker / Ensemble)
Graham Bickley (Sheriff / Ensemble)
Stanley Jarvis (Young Clyde)
Lucy Simmonds (Young Bonnie)
Bonnie and Clyde runs in the studio at The Other Palace for 26th June ti 1st July.

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things


Hollywood and Broadway icon Stockard Channing will return to the London stage this summer, to star in a new production of Olivier Award winner Alexi Kaye Campbell’s acclaimed drama Apologia, directed by the multi-award winning Jamie Lloyd.

Opening at the Trafalgar Studios on 29th July, Apologia will see the Tony and Emmy Award winning actor performing in the West End for the first time in over a decade. Channing’s hugely popular film and TV credits include starring roles in The West Wing, The Good Wife, her Oscar® and Golden Globe nominated role in Six Degrees of Separation, and the iconic role of Rizzo in the film Grease. An acclaimed Broadway and West End star, Channing’s most recent performances on Broadway, It’s Only a Play and Other Desert Cities (a “peerless” performance -NY Times, for which she was nominated for her seventh Tony Award), have affirmed her position as a true theatrical legend.

Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play is a compelling drama about the importance of family and the pressures commitment and principles exert on it. Apologia follows his critical success with The Pride and his acclaimed plays Sunset at The Villa Thalia at the National Theatre and The Faith Machine at the Royal Court Theatre.

Stockard Channing plays Kristin Miller, a firebrand liberal matriarch of a dynamic family, who is presiding over her birthday celebrations. An eminent art historian, Kristin’s almost evangelical dedication to her career and her political activism has resulted in her sons – Peter, a merchant banker, and Simon, a writer – harbouring deeply rooted and barely suppressed resentments towards her. The fissures in her relationship with them are brought to the fore by the recent publication of her memoir.


After his acclaimed London debut last year, Spanish performer Joan Vázquez brings back Something’s Coming – a Sondheim tribute as part of Live at Zédel Summer season, on Monday 26th June 2017, 7.00pm.


In the style of recent actor-musician Sondheim latest productions on Broadway, Joan goes solo celebrating music theatre genius Stephen Sondheim with legendary songs such as “Losing My Mind”, “Finishing the Hat”, “Send in the Clowns” or “Being Alive”, accompanied by himself on the piano, while delivering Mr. Sondheim’s witty quotes on the state of the art, love and life.

Joan will be joined by the special West End guest star appearances of Madalena Alberto (Cats, Evita, Piaf, Jekyll and Hyde, Les Misérables), Kieran Brown (The Phantom of The Opera, Wicked, Love Never Dies, Les Misérables) and recent Olivier Award winner Rebecca Trehearn (Showboat, City of Angels, Dogfight Ghost, Love Story).


The Bafta Award-winning film Touching the Void will return to the big screen on Sunday 18 June for one night only. A world premiere, composer Alex Heffes, a long-time collaborator of director Kevin Macdonald, will bring his brilliant and dramatic score to life in a live presentation of the whole film with a 60-piece orchestra at the Barbican Hall in London.


In an exclusive Q&A before the event, author and legendary climber Joe Simpson, director Kevin Macdonald and composer Alex Heffes will be reunited on stage to discuss the background and making of the film; a unique chance for the audience to hear, directly from the filmmakers, how Simpson’s book was brought to the screen.

Q&A with Joe Simpson, Kevin Macdonald and Alex Heffes starts at 6pm.
Film performance starts at 7pm.
Q&A is free to all ticket holders.
Tickets from £15
Barbican Box Office: barbican.org.uk / 020 7638 8891


Colin Morgan and Ellie Kendrick will make their Hampstead Theatre debuts in Gloria, a razor-sharp comic drama which focuses on ambition, office warfare and hierarchies, where the only thing that matters is moving up the ladder and selling out to the highest bidder.


The full cast of Gloria is Kae Alexander, Sian Clifford, Bayo Gbadamosi, Ellie Kendrick, Colin Morgan and Bo Poraj.


London Bubble, the iconic South-East London theatre company has announced today that it will stage its first summer show in seven years, with performances in Southwark Park (1–6 August), and Greenwich Park (9–19 August). Tickets are on sale now from www.londonbubble.org.uk.

Tales from the Arabian Nights was the Bubble’s first promenade production when Farhana Sheikh’s play was staged in 1994, and is now being reimagined for summer 2017 under the direction of Bubble Creative Director Jonathan Petherbridge, with designs by Yasuko Hasegawa.

Well known for their family friendly theatre, London Bubble’s last ticketed summer show was staged in 2010. After funding cuts in 2008 the company had to reinvent itself and become wholly sustainable without Arts Council funding. Their survivalist story – which saw Bubble rebuild the company on people power, passion and partnerships – has been held up as an example of resilience in the theatre industry. The Bubble is now delighted to reconnect with its audiences and go back to doing what they were most publically known and loved for.

London Bubble’s ethos is “people make theatre” and the mission has always been to create theatre that is inspirational, inclusive and involving – sharing stories that animate the spaces of the city and the spirits of its citizens. The Bubble staged its first summer show in 1972 and has been creating theatre both for and with communities throughout the outer London boroughs for nearly 45 years. Audiences coming to see Tales from the Arabian Nights are welcome to bring their whole family, including babes in arms or children in buggies, plus any pets who might enjoy a trip to the park.


(c) Simon Annand

Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Nica Burns are delighted to announce that Laurence Boswell’s critically acclaimed production of Daniel Kehlmann’s The Mentor will have a West End run at London’s Vaudeville Theatre from 24 June to 2 September with opening night for press on Tuesday 4 July.


The Mentor stars Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham as Benjamin Rubin, Daniel Weyman as Martin Wegner, Naomi Frederick as Gina Wegner and Jonathan Cullen as Erwin Rudicek.

Winners of the 2017 Olivier Awards

Here are the winners for the 2017 Olivier Awards – it will come as little surprise that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child carried the night, sweeping a record 9 trophies from its record 11 nominations. And on the musical side of things, there was a pleasing spread of awards (although fans of Half A Sixpence will undoubtedly be miffed). There’s a temptation to be slightly cynical (who doesn’t love a bit of a snark…)  in that Cursed Child winning so many was an easy way to grab headlines – spreading the love better reflects the diversity of the industry, insofar as these awards reflect it at all. And  Groundhog Day winning Best New Musical just before it opens in New York and rumoured to return to London in the coming months feels a tad convenient but hey ho, whatcha gonna do.

I didn’t do too badly with my predictions –  I got 6 out of 8 winners right in the acting categories. Full list under the cut.


Best actor in a supporting role in a musical

Ian Bartholomew for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre
Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre – WINNER
Ben Hunter for The Girls at Phoenix theatre
Andrew Langtree for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic
 
Best actress in a supporting role in a musical
Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre – Olivier
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at Arts theatre
Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at New London theatre – WINNER
Emma Williams for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre

Continue reading “Winners of the 2017 Olivier Awards”

2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Palace
Elegy – Donmar Warehouse
The Flick – National Theatre Dorfman
One Night in Miami – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
Groundhog Day – The Old Vic
Dreamgirls – Savoy
The Girls – Phoenix
School of Rock – New London

Best Revival 
Yerma – Young Vic
The Glass Menagerie – Duke of York’s
This House – Garrick
Travesties – Apollo Continue reading “2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations

Best Actor in a Play, sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian
Ian Hallard for The Boys in the Band
Ian McKellen for No Man’s Land
Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
Kenneth Branagh for The Entertainer
Ralph Fiennes for Richard III

Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Live at Zédel 
Billie Piper for Yerma 
Helen McCrory for The Deep Blue Sea
Lily James for Romeo and Juliet
Michelle Terry for Henry V
Pixie Lott for Breakfast at Tiffany’s Continue reading “2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: Floyd Collins, Wilton’s Music Hall

“Do you feel the kind of grace inside the breeze?”

One of the joys of having this blog is the aide memoire aspect of it, the theatrical diary that it has become, allowing me to trace how my tastes have shifted. I say this in particular reference to Floyd Collins, a show I didn’t much enjoy the first time I saw it at its 2012 production at the Southwark Playhouse and yet which on this revisit, four years later, I adored. 
A substantial part of it comes with the musical complexity of Adam Guettel’s score, one I (still) think few people would fall in love with instantly, but also one which has repaid repeated listens and the breadth of performers yearning to sing his music (Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara…), incrementally convincing me of its worth and culminating in the gloriously revelatory sound of Tom Brady’s band tucked away in the balcony of Wilton’s Music Hall.
Jonathan Butterell’s production revels in its simplicity, the steel scaffolding of the split-stage design allowing for an interesting perspective, placing the titular character at the heart of the action – even if he is trapped down a cave for most of the show – whilst his friends and family try to free him. And even in 1920s small-town Kentucky, Tina Landau shows how a media circus whipped up around him, Butterell letting us draw the parallels of rapacious capitalism for ourselves.
And through the sheer intensity of the performances, any perceived thinness in the drama just melts away. As Floyd himself, Ashley Robinson is fiercely committed in showing both the external and internal life of this tragic figure, Daniel Booroff is a compelling figure as the reporter who grows close to him, and Samuel Thomas as Floyd’s brother equally impresses as he tries to keep spirits high in an increasingly desperate situation.
The night belongs to Rebecca Trehearn though, with her gorgeously nuanced performance as Floyd’s psychologically damaged sister Nellie. Gifted with some of the more beautiful musical moments and possessed of a radiant soprano that is always a joy to hear, she makes this Floyd Collins even more of a must-see.
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Hannah Barton
Booking until 15th October