Nominations for the 2020 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez
Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, Playwrights Horizons
Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee, Signature Theatre
Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, Lincoln Center Theater
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Atlantic Theater Company/LAByrinth Theater Company

Outstanding Musical
A Strange Loop, Playwrights Horizons/Page 73 Productions
Octet, Signature Theatre
The Secret Life of Bees, Atlantic Theater Company
Soft Power, The Public Theater
The Wrong Man, MCC Theater Continue reading “Nominations for the 2020 Drama Desk Awards”

Review: High Fidelity, Turbine Theatre

A complete lack of charm makes this musical adaptation of High Fidelity tough-going at the Turbine Theatre

“Ian’s here
To offer a safe haven
Where you can be yourself
Unshackled and unshaven.”

I’d forgotten about Natalie Imbruglia, so I was happily grateful for the (albeit sneering) reminder about her in High Fidelity and popped her greatest hits on on the way home from Battersea’s Turbine Theatre. I was not tempted to listen again Tom Kitt’s score, which is a bit of a problem when you’ve just seen a new musical. It’s indicative of this choice of production at this new theatre, which at best could be described as curious, though problematic feels closer to the truth.

Though Nick Hornby’s novel and its inevitable cinematic adaptation garnered a level of popularity, they were very much products of their time, the 90s in microcosm. And David Lindsay-Abaire’s US adaptation, retooled here for the UK by Vikki Stone, does little to adjust that, ultimately coming up with something that already feels like a period piece. Oh look a geek, haha! Oh look a vegan, hahaha! Oh look a woman who’s way out of my league who was somehow my girlfriend and who I will stalk until she gets back together with me, hahahahahaha. Continue reading “Review: High Fidelity, Turbine Theatre”

Nominations for the 2018 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
Admissions, by Joshua Harmon, Lincoln Center Theater
Mary Jane, by Amy Herzog, New York Theatre Workshop
Miles for Mary, by The Mad Ones, Playwrights Horizons
People, Places & Things, by Duncan Macmillan, National Theatre/St. Ann’s Warehouse/Bryan Singer Productions/Headlong
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, by Jocelyn Bioh, MCC Theater

Outstanding Musical
Desperate Measures, The York Theatre Company
KPOP, Ars Nova/Ma-Yi Theatre Company/Woodshed Collective
Mean Girls
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, 2b Theatre Company/59E59
SpongeBob SquarePants Continue reading “Nominations for the 2018 Drama Desk Awards”

Album Review: Bring It On: The Musical (2012 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Even mocking cheerleaders cannot hide the emptiness in my soul”


Before Hamilton, but after In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda found the time to write the score to the musical adaptation of one of my legit favourite films, the Kirsten Dunst-starring high school cheerleader classic Bring It On. With Tom Kitt and Amanda Green, Miranda brings a defiantly 90s feel to the sound of Bring It On: The Musical, an interesting choice that doesn’t always necessarily work but is fascinating with it.


The story has been changed a little from the film from what I could make out but the bones of it remain the same – intense rivalries both within high school and with other high schools culminating the cheer-off of all cheer-offs at National where everyone has to ‘bring it’. And reflecting the urban diversity of this world, elements of pop, RnB and hip-hop are easily folded into the Broadway template make this modern, if weirdly dated, score.


What’s most interesting for me is the way in which you can hear elements of the Hamilton score in a kind of embryonic form in some of the numbers. The refrain of ‘It’s All Happening’ has definite pre-echoes in there and the chromatic scales in ‘Do Your Own Thing’ recall the young Philip learning French to please his father. There’s some powerful performances here from the leads Taylor Louderman, Ryann Redmond and Adrienne Warren, plus a notable turn from Elle McLemore as the villainous Eva but I don’t think it is a cast recording I’d be returning to in a hurry. (That said, I’d happily go see it on stage).

Album Review: If/Then (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“I know all the odds and even so…” 

One of the temptations with cast recordings, and something that’s been facilitated by the dawning of the digital age, is to make a playlist of your favourite songs and then forget about the others. I am terrible for doing this – it’s why I’m word perfect on only half of Wicked – and yet I never seen to stop. If/Then is a good example of this – the edited highlights on my iPhone give the impression of a great show whereas the reality is more just good

Predictably, these excerpts mostly include Idina Menzel’s inimitable vocal, around which Tom Kitt’s score was crafted. The delicate duet of ‘Here I Go’ with the lovely James Snyder, the stirring ‘You Learn To Live Without’, the irresistible melodic force of ‘Always Starting Over’, she’s so at home in this world of emotionally swirling tunes that it is impossible not to get swept up with her, especially in the last song’s slow-building climax. Continue reading “Album Review: If/Then (Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Review: If/Then, Richard Rodgers Theatre

“I’d lie to say I’m never sometimes always thinking of you”

I couldn’t do New York without taking the opportunity to see Idina Menzel and in lieu of battling the crowds at Times Square, tickets were booked for her starring role in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s If/Then. Having had the soundtrack for a wee while now, and being a big fan thereof, I pretty much knew what I was letting myself in for, meaning there was none of the apparent confusion that blighted much of the initial critical response which found the show hard to follow.

Is it confusing? I don’t think so. It’s tricksy yes, as a twin set of narratives follow two different paths that newly-divorced Elizabeth could take as she moves to New York City to start her life anew. Pushing 40, she feels the clock ticking both personally and professionally and so as Liz it is the former that takes precedent and as Beth, the latter. The same friends and colleagues appear in each strand too, with different experiences so you do have to pay some attention but that’s no real hardship. Continue reading “Review: If/Then, Richard Rodgers Theatre”

Album Review: Stuart Matthew Price – All Things In Time

“Am I wishing for too much?”

Stuart Matthew Price, currently to be found in the ensemble of Shrek The Musical, has long carried the (potentially) dubious honour of being named one of the brightest upcoming stars of British musical theatre since wowing people in Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 and since then has been quietly carving out an interesting career, more often than not choosing to highlight lesser-known musical theatre writing. And so too does he do here on his debut album, All Things in Time featuring a selection of the cream of new musical theatre writing, including himself as he is a composer as well as performer.

Dougal Irvine’s beautifully relaxed ‘The Touch of Love’ was a surprising highlight for me: I’d usually plump for piano arrangements every time but Irvine’s light touch (ba-dum) works wonders here to make this a great track. And followed by Laurence Mark Wythe’s Goodnight Kiss, the album really does come off as a fabulous showcase for interesting writing: both of these songs standing up excellently individually, but also suggesting interesting musicals that might accompany them. Likewise, Stiles & Drewe’s ‘Wishing For The Normal’, a characterful duet with Caissie Levy, and Grant Olding’s ‘Midnight Will Happen Without Us’ are other great signs of the health of new British musical writing. Continue reading “Album Review: Stuart Matthew Price – All Things In Time”