REVIEW: Million Dollar Quartet at the Festival Theatre, Malvern

Last night I saw Million Dollar Quartet at Malvern Festival Theatre and had a fab night!

The show portrays the famous jam session that was had between four amazing musicians who were none other than… Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Brought together by the father of Rock and Roll Sam Phillips played by Jason Donovan.

It’s filled with classic rock and roll hits with an amazingly talented cast. Martin Kaye who played the role of Jerry Lee Lewis had what I can only describe as mad piano skills – he really knew how to work the audience. Elvis (played by Ross Wild) was so like Elvis I thought it was actually him on stage, his voice and persona were incredible. He managed to capture the essence of the character whilst putting his own spin on it. What can I say about the fantastic Robbie Durham (Johnny Cash) – I was so impressed with his performance and he absolutely owned the stage.

The production transports you back in time and reminds us of the magic of rock and roll. It got the audience off their feet and dancing and overall it was such a great night!

Charlie xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE! Interview With The Man Behind a New JACK THE RIPPER MUSICAL!

JACK THE RIPPER: THE MUSICAL is a new musical from upcoming writers Aaron Barker and Christopher Pelling. The new musical is still in the writers room (on both ends) and has currently not seen the light of day, apart from its Facebook page. The Thespians are here to provide you with an exclusive insight into the weirdly wonderful minds of the shows book writer, Aaron.

Question: First off – why Jack The Ripper? What drew you to the sick, twisted world of the unknown serial killer?

Aaron: Well, I have always loved history, from a very early age. I was involved in a lot of musicals as a performer, and back in 2014 had the idea to write my own. As a new writer I wanted to start out with a story set in stone, so I thought a piece of classic history. I wanted to do something dark, as I thought that there where too many happy, cheesy musicals out there. So the idea of a new dark British historical musical came to mind, looking back to year 9 history classes I recalled studying Jack the Ripper.

I was drawn to doing it as there’s so many elements to Jack the Ripper. It’s become an urban myth almost, like a little legend. But it’s all true! This did happen in the darkest, poorest area of London’s slums and there’s so many elements to Jack the Ripper like the mystery of his identity and motives. the gruesome nature of his crimes and the legacy he has left behind. He murdered in a way no serial killer had done before him and would never do again. Frightening people in his own unique way and striking at just the right time in just the right place.

 

Question: Do you have any theories on the identity of the killer and how do you spin it into the show?

Aaron: I have my own idea of who the murderer could have been. we haven’t yet touched on the suspects yet, but I’m sure we will, we certainly won’t point the finger on anyone saying “oh yes it’s him!” as we want the mystery element to the piece and want the audience to ask questions and make up their own minds. Everyone likes a classic who dunnit, and Jack The Ripper is the classic who dunnit!!

Question: What has inspired you music and book-wise towards your musical?

Aaron: We have been inspired by musicals like Frankenstein, Jekyll & Hyde, Dracula and Sweeney Todd. Me and Christopher are after a musical thriller element to the piece to create an on the edge of your seat, tense and very sinister atmosphere so writers like Stephen Sondheim are massive influences! We also look up to Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricuisse who wrote Jekyll & Hyde, the music in that is so atmospheric, beautiful and gripping, as is the book and lyrics of Leslie Bricuisse and we want the audience to feel so many levels of atmosphere, tension, and fear so these writers prove hugely influential in helping us make the show what it will be!

Question: If you could cast anyone in the role of Jack The Ripper, who would it be and why?

Aaron: Me and Christopher haven’t set anything in stone about casting just yet, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. However I myself have an actor called Stephen Carlile in mind. I saw him in The Lion King as Scar here in Liverpool when it was on tour and was blown away by his incredible singing voice and his villainous appeal. He’s one to keep in mind, but as I say nothing is set in stone yet.

Question: When are you looking to premiere the musical and for a how long run?

Aaron: We are looking at anytime between 2019 to 2020 for its world premiere. I have nearly finished the script for Act I and hopefully ill have that done by the end of the year and Act II’s script done for this time next year with all of the music done for 2018. After it’s all done and edited we’ll look for a producer and have the premiere for either 2019 or 2020. Our vision is to have a season of 3 to 4 weeks here in my hometown of Liverpool before a UK and Ireland tour, all depending on the production’s scale and who produces it.

Question: Finally, if you could describe Jack The Ripper in three words, what would they be?

Aaron: Amazing, tense and gripping.

Jack The Ripper is written by Aaron Barker and Christopher Pelling. For updates on the show, please visit the official Facebook page.

OUR OPINION:

We definitely can’t wait to see where this show goes! It looks like it’s gonna be intense and a wild, emotional roller coaster.

Hope you enjoyed this interview! Thanks for reading!

Nathan and Charlie xoxo

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REVIEW: LIFT at the Stage Door, Southampton

Probably the best amateur production of a musical I’ve seen, Lift is a story about strangers in a lift, all in the perspective of a street busker.

Set in a busy Covent Garden tube station lift, we are crammed into the tight space with a Busker, a Secretary, a French Teacher, a Bright Young Thing, a Ballet Dancer, a Lap Dancer, a man that is Tall, Dark And Handsome, and a young girl who is Athletic And Wearing A Thong. Have you ever been on a lift with such a cast of characters and couldn’t help but think: “Who are these people and why are they here?” this musical explores the concept of that.

When I first heard of the concept of LIFT, earlier this year, I couldn’t help but ridicule it, and think to myself WHY someone would write a full-scale musical about one minute in a lift. A few weeks later, I purchased the video recording on Digital Theatre (the original London cast). I wasn’t too blown away, but slightly impressed. The concept was brilliant, but, like any video recording of a live performance, I wasn’t hooked.

When I found out that local musical theatre group Music Theatre South were producing LIFT in October 2016 at the Stage Door in Southampton, I knew I’d love to go. This wasn’t my first time with either MTS or the Stage Door, as I saw two performances of MTS’ production of RENT in October last year at the same theatre, which wasn’t exceptional, but it was a brilliant production and I was glad to have seen it’s first preview and final performance.

Come October this year, a few days before the first performance, I wasn’t too intent on going to see LIFT. Come Friday, the night before the final performance, I thought “Screw it, I’ll go and see LIFT tomorrow.”

I’m glad I did.

From the moment we entered the auditorium (which is situated above a noisy bar, a small little fringe/cabaret venue), we were immersed into an abstract Covent Garden station. The thrust staging really worked with the show, we decided to sit on one corner, so we could see the front of the stage but also the side. the “stage” is sat in the middle of the auditorium, where seats would usually be if using the usual proscenium staging, the stage was a raised platform, with four poles on the corners, with another platform on top, forming a box-type, to show the lift. The band were sat on the theatre’s permanent stage.

From the moment the audience entered the auditorium, Liam Baker, who wonderfully played The Busker was stood on stage, with a guitar and case full of pennies. Slowly, the other cast members entered the stage. None of them left the stage throughout the show.

The actors weren’t mic’d as this was a very intimate show, which I feel was a poor decision as there were many solos we couldn’t hear over the ensemble’s other verses, and sometimes the singing and/or dialogue couldn’t be heard over the walking around the stage (which was very loud, especially in the opening number.).

Adam Myers took the challenge of directing a sort of abstract piece and adapting it facing three sides of audience. He did it beautifully, though some of the jokes weren’t conveyed due to the staging, but for the most part it was beautifully. The vocals were extremely strong, and the vocalist that stood out for me the most was Imogen Johnson as The Bright Young Thing. Her rendition of Lost in Translations was gorgeous, she has an insanely strong range  and amazing vibrato control. She was insane.

The Lap Dancer, played by Sam Frith, was beautifully acted. Her singing voice too was beautiful, my only critique would be she has very natural hand movements when she sings, which aren’t controlled. When she sung It’s Been A Year, her hands often would flare out and then she’d hold her stomach. That needs to be controlled, but other than that she was an absolutely beautiful performer.

The production on a whole was amazing. Beautifully directed, and beautifully performed. It’s an extremely non-naturalistic piece, yet it’s naturalistic at the same time. The staging was so different to that of the London production, but this production could be mistaken for the London production.

Music Theatre South have put on an extremely well-done production. I wish I could see it all again in the future…perhaps on a bigger stage?

Nathan xoxo

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PS: Interview with the writers of a new Jack The Ripper Musical coming Monday, and coming up: Reviews on the new London production of Side Show and review on the long-awaited West End production of School Of Rock! 

 

NEWS: 21 CHUMP STREET Comes To LONDON?!?!

As part of the From Page To Stage showcase at the Tristan Bates theatre, Lin Manuel Miranda’s mini musical 21 Chump Street is coming to London.

The showcase’s Facebook page announced it to be playing from the 31st October-20th November, but the Tristan Bates theatre website says that the showcase is from the 11th-19th November.

Either way, we can’t wait. Get tickets here.

Nathan & Charlie xoxo

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5 Musicals That Need A West End Production!

There are multiple amazing shows that have never seen the light of the London’s West End! So here is my top 5 musicals that need a West End production! NOT INCLUDING MUSICALS THAT HAVE HAD AN OFF-WEST END PRODUCTION

5. BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL – Lin Manuel Miranda’s genius is not unknown in London, with In The Heights finishing a run in January, and Hamilton opening in 2017, so why not go for his third? Bring It On is based on the movies of the same name. It features Campbell, a high school cheerleader for Truman High School. When she lets a junior, Eva (fabulously played on Broadway by Elle McLemore), onto the cheer squad, she finds herself mysteriously transferred to another high school – Jackson. Jackson is round and rowdy, and it has no cheerleading squad. When Campbell finds out that Eva is now team captain and is the reason she was removed from her perfect school life, she takes it upon herself to form a cheerleading squad at Jackson. With Truman High School’s music by Tom Kitt, and Jackson High School’s music by Lin Manuel Miranda, this musical is a celebration of cheer and really deserved a West End production.

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL – A Christmas Story is based on the beloved American classic Christmas movie. It centres on Ralphie, a young boy, who wants nothing more for Christmas than an official Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun with a compass and stock and this thing that tells time. He realises that it’s sooner to Christmas than he expected, and although his friends, family, teachers and even a mall Santa tell him “You’ll shoot your eye out!” He doesn’t give up determination to get what he wants for Christmas. With a beautiful score by the wonderful Pasek & Paul (my favourite composers), A Christmas Story would really work over here for a short seasonal run or UK tour.

3. HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL – Heathers premiered Off-Broadway in 2014 and has developed a huge fan base. Based on the 90’s film starring Winona Ryder, and set in the eighties, many people call Heathers the original mean girls. When Veronica finds herself in the coolest clique in school, formed up of Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara (fabulously played Off-Broadway by Elle McLemore), she realises she bit off more than she can chew and she hates her new best friend, Chandler. When she gets involved with new boy, JD, their relationship becomes a force to be reckoned with, and the pair murder Heather Chandler. This first murder spirals into something a lot more sinister, and Veronica becomes a Dead Girl Walking. Awesome rock score by Legally Blonde’s Laurence O’Keefe, this show would delight west end audiences alike.

2. FUN HOME – I’ve expressed my love for Fun Home multiple times before (see here) and would love nothing more than to see it on the West End. I’d be there every. single. performance.

1. NEWSIES – It’s a classic Disney movie adapted for the stage. And although the movie wasn’t as big in the UK as it was in the US, Newsies would surely be a huge success! It focuses on Jack Kelley, news boy extraordinaire. When the likes of Joseph Pulitzer increases the selling price of the news paper by one cent for the news boys, Jack decides to round up his newsies and form a union and go on strike! Alan Menken’s awesome score and the delightful cast of characters would really make an impact on the UK audiences.

And that’s it, those are my five.

What would your five be? Let me know in the comments!

Nathan xoxo

 

 

CAST RECORDING OF THE WEEK 08/10/16

This week’s cast recording of the week is:

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MATILDA THE MUSICAL – ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING

Matilda The Musical tells the story of Matilda Wormwood, a shy nine year old girl who loves to read. Shunned by her parents and brother, Matilda often flees to the library to tell her friend, the librarian, stories. When Matilda is sent to school, her teacher, Miss Honey, recognises Matilda’s advanced skills but fails in getting the school’s abusive and frightening headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, to also recognise her talent. Throughout her time at Crunchem Hall, Matilda learns that sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!

TRACK LIST

  1. Overture – 0:42
  2. Miracle (Part One) – 4:24
  3. Miracle (Part Two) – 2:12
  4. Miracle (Part Three) – 2:41
  5. Naughty – 3:15
  6. School Song – 3:58
  7. Pathetic – 1:46
  8. The Hammer – 3:00
  9. The Chokey Chant – 1:01
  10. Loud – 4:01
  11. This Little Girl – 2:02
  12. Bruce – 4:05
  13. Telly – 3:11
  14. When I Grow Up – 3:39
  15. I’m Here (Story 4) – 4:17
  16. The Smell Of Rebellion – 5:18
  17. Quiet – 3:37
  18. My House – 3:48
  19. Chalk Writing – 1:24
  20. Revolting Children – 2:33
  21. When I Grow Up/Naughty (Reprise) – 2:10
  22. Story One: Once Upon A Time… – 3:24
  23. Story Two: The Great Day Arrived… – 4:25
  24. Story Three: The Trick Started Well… – 4:25
  25. Perhaps A Child (Cut Song) – 2:30
  26. Naughty (Four Matildas) – 3:00

CHARLIE: Check out Charlie’s review here!

NATHAN: The Broadway cast recording of Matilda holds a special place in my heart. It’s such a heart-warming show and the cast in the Broadway production are PHENOMENAL and so much better than any of the West End casts so far, although there is one cast member that means so much to me: LESLI MARGHERITA. Lesli was in the show from it’s opening as Mrs Wormwood. She stayed in the show until September 2015, when she departed to work on Dames At Sea on Broadway. When Matilda was announced to be closing on Broadway, it was announced that Lesli was to join in September 2016 for the closing cast. Lesli adds new depth to Mrs Wormwood than anyone else. She is a stunning dancer, and a flawless belter. She is the reason why Matilda lasted so long. Amen.

 

Nathan and Charlie xoxo

REVIEW: Matilda the Musical

Hey guys!

So we had a group trip to see Matilda the Musical last weekend and it was so fab! Third/fourth time seeing it for Charlie and first time for Nathan!

The show tells the story of a very special little girl named Matilda who has a hard time fitting in with her family and she has never felt like she belonged. That is until the time comes for her to begin school. Matilda is a girl who loves to read and learn however just when she thought she had escaped the bullying at home, a new bully comes along who just happens to be the principle of the school…Miss Trunchbull. It takes us on a journey of good overcoming bad and shows us how working together (with maybe a touch of revolting) could make for a happy ending after all.

Matilda is such a feel good show and the soundtrack is awesome (and actually quite addictive once you get in to it). At times it can be quite dark but the comedy I think overshadows that and helps to lighten the mood- plus there is such a variety of songs from those that make you perhaps a tad emotional to ones that make you laugh out loud.

The cast are so talented and the fact that it’s basically ran by such a young group of actors/actresses just makes it all the more impressive. Our Matilda was Emily-May and she did such a fantastic job! We were lucky enough to be there for her final two performances and she did Matilda proud. She gave such a confident performance and we really enjoyed her portrayal as the title role.

Craig Els as the Trunch was insane! Love him in this role, so funny yet terrifying at the same time. His ‘Smell of Rebellion’ is genius.

Overall, we had a great two shows and will most likely be back soon.

Charlie & Nathan xoxo

COMPETITION! Win A “School Of Rock” PlayBill!

Hey guys!

Our first competition is to win a SCHOOL OF ROCK PLAYBILL as well as two different SCHOOL OF ROCK LONDON FLYERS!

The competition runs until the 30th October and all you have to do to win is to show us your best rock face, tweet us @thespiansblog and follow us on twitter!

The winner will receive:

  1. SCHOOL OF ROCK Broadway playbill from September 2016
  2. SCHOOL OF ROCK London rectangular flyer
  3. SCHOOL OF ROCK London square flyer

And two runners up will receive:

  1. SCHOOL OF ROCK London rectangular flyer

Good luck!

Nathan & Charlie xoxo