Review: Waitress, Adelphi Theatre

Fresh from Broadway, hit musical Waitress proves funnier and lighter than you might expect at the Adelphi Theatre

“Let’s see the next amazing thing baking does now”

True story, I didn’t love Waitress when I first saw it in my Broadway Blitz of 2016. But as it sometimes the way, upon listening to the cast recording again and then again, I fell for the show that way, and so was delighted with news of its UK premiere at the Adelphi Theatre.

To think of it as a big Broadway show is to misinterpret what it is trying to do though. Jessie Nelson (book) and Sara Bareilles’ (music and lyrics) adaptation of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 indie flick is a subtler thing than much West End fare, an intimate story of pies, pregnancy and just how much we’ll put up with. Continue reading “Review: Waitress, Adelphi Theatre”

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”

Re-review: The Commitments, Palace

“Why don’t you get out of my life and let me make a new start?”

Cast and crew members across the West End may not agree but I do find it surprising that more shows haven’t gone for the variation of Sunday evening performances in their schedules. Particularly with tourists, it’s a ready-made and captive audience with little else to do in this bustling city and by the looks of the Palace Theatre last night, keen as mustard. That said, it can be something of a trial going out on a Sunday night when a work-filled Monday morning is looming around the corner.

For me though, the chance to see The Commitments one more time before it closes its doors after a run that has lasted more than two years was enough to tempt me out and I’m glad I did as it really is good fun. Technically speaking, it is less of a musical than I would strictly consider, the narrative quickly gives way to a mini-concert at the show’s end but with music as good as this, and an actor-musician cast as talented as this, such crowd-pleasing antics feel entirely forgivable. Continue reading “Re-review: The Commitments, Palace”

Review: Sincerely Yours, Landor

“Your eyes will tell me all I want to know
When you come home once more”

Christmas 1944 in an end-of-the-pier theatre in Clacton-on-Sea – Sincerely Yours sees a troupe of entertainers put on a show for the latest conscripts about to ship off to the front and looks at their lives both on and off the stage as Britain enters another year of war and they themselves go overseas to join the war effort. Part of the LAMBCO Fringe Festival at the Landor, it’s a sweetly-played nostalgic tribute to those who endured through wartime, and to those who did not. 

The show is at its strongest in the production numbers, which are really rather impressive. Robbie O’Reilly’s choreography works well in the limitations of this space to still give a full tap routine with ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and keeps its tongue firmly in cheek when Carmen Miranda gets involved. Jennifer Sims, Sarah Goggin and Sarah Day are fabulous as an Andrews Sister-esque vocal trio, ‘Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree’ and ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, two highlights among many. Continue reading “Review: Sincerely Yours, Landor”

Review: The Commitments, Palace

“The Irish are the blacks of Europe”

In the ongoing search for the perfect recipe for a West End musical, The Commitments has done better than most since opening last October. Here, a hot-shot director (Jamie Lloyd) has been mixed with material that has already been a book and a film (written by Roddy Doyle, directed by Alan Parker) and tinkers with the jukebox format (using iconic US soul classics) to create an engaging piece of entertainment. The main surprise comes with how little story there actually is – the premise is simply that young gun Jimmy Rabbitte decides to put a band together and that is pretty much it.

So in place of narrative twists and turns, we get the slick movement of Soutra Gilmour’s ingeniously inventive set design; instead of depth of character, there’s a wide-ranging songbook which gives everyone a turn on the mike or a chance to rock out a solo and thus express themselves through music. It’s a curious interpretation which takes a little time to really gel, the opening 20 minutes or so struggles to make its mark as there’s little music and the surprising thinness of Doyle’s writing is at its most exposed – for all the time Jimmy spends in his house, his ma gets an appallingly small amount to say. Continue reading “Review: The Commitments, Palace”

Theater Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas 2013

It appears to be the year of theatrical covers of Do They Know It’s Christmas? and this one certainly ramps up the star wattage (and seems weirdly specifically designed for RevStan!) with its cast. Put together by current Les Mis stars Anton Zetterholm and Rob Houchen as part of their Room9 fundraising campaign for WaterAid. They’ve had an Advent calendar of videos (which can be viewed here) and today’s clip pulled together an incredible roster of performers from major theatre shows from across Europe and the USA. Watch the video below to see who you can spot, and then please visit their fundraising page to give what you can for this great cause.