Earlier this week I made the trip down to Chichester to see another of this season’s smash hits Gypsy starring the incredible Imelda Staunton. The run has already sold out but I’d put money on it that we’ll see it in London before long.
I was fortunate to be asked to go review the National Theatre’s production of Alan Bennett’s play ‘People’ at the newly reopened Birmingham Rep a couple of days back.
I will link to the full review when it goes live but for now, follow the jump for a little preview and for the link to the full review at WhatsOnStage.com
Up4aMeet? – Crescent Theatre Birmingham, 22nd July 2013
Up4aMeet? Is the finest example of a play that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is very aware of what it is, but also genuinely funny. What could have been a production that was funny for the wrong reasons, this is a very humorous piece of theatre packed full of topical references and some very accurate observations.
The play, set in block of flats, follows the lives of 3 very different (stereotypical) gay men, their mutual friend the celebrity booker, her failing client and the new flat mate of the oldest of the 3 men. Along with the use of ‘Cock Shop’ aka Grindr on their phones and websites to find sex and dates the action becomes farcical with cross communication, mixed identification and the need to succeed.
Earlier this week I went along to see BMOS’ production of Carousel to review for WOS. As a fan of amateur theatre, being involved in it myself, I always have hopes for companies to push themselves to their maximum ability, but to also have realistic expectations and not to take themselves too seriously. Whether or not BMOS fit in with my personal point of view n am-dram is to be decided. The full review can be found on the Whats On Stage website here – but for a sneak peak follow the jump…
Earlier this week I shuffled down to the New Alexandra Theatre to see and review a new play about the life of Tommy Cooper. Only knowing Cooper through seeing clips on TV and hearing things from my Dad to base my knowledge of him on, the play provided a new insight into the sometimes troubled life of an entertainment giant.
Although not really my cup of tea, the play was really good with some brilliant performances from the small cast. I think it would have been better in a smaller theatre as the audience only filled a very small percentage of the seats in the auditorium and it may have made certain parts of the production more effective, but would highly recommend the show to Cooper fans everywhere.
My full review can be found on WhatsOnStage.com (follow this link!) and here is a small snippet to wet those whistles:
Williams’ performance as a drunk Cooper is sublime and the closing image of the play of him slumped in a drunken stupor alone in a hotel room is moving, even if the end of the play just seems to fizzle out.
It’s also lovely when people share the review – I got a smile seeing this tweet from Ben Richards (he from Footballers Wives, The Bill and currently in 9 to 5 the Musical sharing the review!)
Last night I was part of the first ever public audience for the new musical ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘. Based on the Roald Dahl classic which has spawned two films (depending what camp either one’s great the other’s not or both are great or whatever…) the musical joins Dahl’s other classic ‘Matilda‘ which has taken the theatre world by storm. Whether or not the new Sam Mendes’ directed musical will be as bigger hit I’m really not too sure as I left the theatre last night deflated (unlike Violet) and underwhelmed by the whole thing.
Last month I was fortunate enough to go review The Ladykillers for What’s on Stage at Wolverhampton Grand. An infectiously funny play with lots of dark comedic moments kept th audience riveted through out.
Full review here on the What’s on Stage website, but here’s a preview:
The Ladykillers is a hilarious evening out. Great performances from all the cast – including the slightly suspicious looking ladies, a tantalising set all with a great script and direction that will keep both the new lady killers and the old professional lady killers happy.
Birmingham Hippodrome once again has a huge hit of panto fun with Brian Conley heading the cast as the title character of Crusoe in this panto based loosely on the story of Robinson Crusoe.
I was lucky enough to review the show for Whats on Stage – click here to read the full review but here, like usual, is a tiny snippet!
This really is a laugh a minute panto for the whole family with jokes for the ears of the young and the old without being unsuitable. The sets are impressively large and colourful filled with fantastic performances including children from The Birmingham Stage School and an ensemble who effortlessly change characters and seem to have unlimited energy. Even those who are not panto fans will be able to raise a smile, participate and most importantly, enjoy the spectacle of pantomime.
This is the perfect panto for the festive season. 5/5
Christmas might be over, and we may be entering the new year with gusto, but it’s never too late to go see a panto!
Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates continues through to Sunday 27th January. Ticket info here.
The tour may be over, but I got to review the show for whatsonstage.com when it visited Wolverhampton in October.
For the full review follow the link at the end of the post, but here’s a peek of what I had to say about it:
The show is full of musical numbers you’ll recognise such as ‘We’re in the Money’ and ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’ and keep the songs you didn’t know before stuck in your head long after the show. There are some fantastic set pieces (one of which involving human shadow puppetry), with stunning choreography throughout the show.
Full review here.
First of all, let’s go back to April 11th 2009 when families gathered around their TVs to watch the first episode of a new series of Britain’s Got Talent. During the episode, there was this audition…
It turned out that that lone audition would capture the entire world thanks to the power of YouTube and the Internet. Now in 2012, a whole musical based around the life of Susan Boyle is touring the UK and last night I went to see the opening night of the show’s Birmingham run at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
I have decided that this blog is going to be the most honest ‘review’ I’ll have given so far – as I cannot decide exactly what I thought of this show but that’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As I waited outside the theatre for the other half to arrive I noticed the demographic of the audience was an older crowd mainly middle aged ladies and their mothers (or husbands). People walking past the theatre who weren’t attending scoffed at the idea of a Susan Boyle (affectively known as SuBo) musical and for a while I was in that camp too. I couldn’t fathom how a musical based on SuBo would work and wondered if we’d have some actors hamming it up as Cowell and co for the audition. However – the production surprised me and although there were moments when I did actually cringe, I left the theatre glad I had taken an evening to go see the show.
I didn’t always feel like that however. In fact for the first 20 minutes I couldn’t wait for the interval and was considering whether to even bother sticking around for the second half, but once (and this sounds horrible) SuBo was being bullied it stated to turn a corner. At times the imposing set of television screens and black glossy doors made too much of an impression, but on the whole it worked well, even if I did spend a lot of time trying to find the cameras filming reactions of actors for some of the screens.
All the cast were fantastic. Obviously Elaine C Smith in the role of Susan Boyle has to be mentioned. Her singing was great with her performances of ‘Wild Horses’ and ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ sending tingles across the audience. Her renactment of the famous audition was performed with precision and her portrayal of Susan losing her parents and her breakdown were with great emotion. She told the story – in form of SuBo looking back at her life and narrating with clarity – although the constant clicking of fingers to freeze or switch action soon got tedious. Other stand out performances include James Paterson as Mr Boyle, Karen Mann as Mrs Boyle and Ashleigh Gray as the ever dependable friend Lorraine.
As for the music, it was a collection of songs from musicals, pop songs and hymns used to try link the story together. On the whole it worked well with a haunting arrangement of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ to open the two acts and ‘This Will Be Our Year’ sang between SuBo and her mother to show her mother’s support. However some of the arrangements weren’t too great and these were the moments I actually cringed such as the Blood Brothers’ inspired version of ‘Perfect Day’, the raggae ‘Mad World’ performed by the ensemble wearing Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan masks whilst holding newspapers to show the press attacks on SuBo and the chorus of Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ to show SuBo in rehab. Another thing that bugged me about the music was that we never heard a whole song. Yes, there are 31 songs listed in the programme – 23 of them in Act 1 alone – but it wouldn’t have hurt to have had a full version of ‘Wild Horses’ rather than cutting it after one verse and chorus when the audience are entrapped.
One of the highlights for me was the scene prior to the audition with SuBo in the queue waiting to audition with a range of characters from musicians to a clown, to a trumpet player to a tapdancing group of ladies. As they wait they burst into ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ – one the more inspired song choices.
As I mentioned earlier the play was full of finger clicking to freeze or gather thoughts. I felt this was the weakest aspect of the script which wasn’t the strongest to start off with. Personally this let it down as it felt a bit school-play like with the freezing for a thought idea. However, the script did tell the story well and I guess the thoughts were valuable to the story. I just wish they’d come up with a more original idea to do this. It would have been good too if they could have used Britain’s Got Talent branding – but guessing it would have been a mammoth task and very expensive to have done so.
I started this post saying I didn’t know what I thought of this show – and I still don’t. However, I did send these tweets last night and this morning:
And I think that’s my conclusion. It really is intriguing and at times surreal – especially the final 10 minutes when SuBo makes an appearance to perform a couple of songs. I wanted to see this because I was curious. I went in with no expectations and no idea what it was going to be like. That was the best decision. Yes, there were moments I didn’t like, but on the whole it was one of those shows that will stick with you for a long time – and for the right reasons.
Oh yeah, and if you do see this show at the Birmingham Hippodrome this week do not attempt to take photos of SuBo at the end – the staff will pounce on you!!
I’m not going to rate this show – but it comes recommended.
‘The Susan Boyle Musical I Dreamed a Dream’ is on at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday.
The tour continues to Inverness and Manchester until June 23rd. Information at the show’s website.