REVIEW: Lizzie @ Greenwich Theatre

The original Danish production of Lizzie opened to nothing but five star reviews – but does the show transfer well to British audiences?

Steven Cheslik-Demeyer, Alan Steven Hewitt and Tim Maner’s heavy rock musical is based on the real life case of Lizzie Borden – who is considered America’s first murderess. She was trialled and acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. The musical explores Lizzie’s relationships with her sister, Emma Borden, her neighbour and supposed lover, Alice Russell, and her maid, Bridget Sullivan…and no-one else. 

That’s right, not even her parents are characters in this show – there are only four women. And boy, do they kill it. Danish actress Bjørg Gamst plays Lizzie Borden herself and she does it perfectly, during the first act with the shy, sheltered girl and the second act as a killer in love with the attention she’s getting. Her first song, This Is Not Love, she sings about her relationship with her father, with very poignant lyrics, especially about how he “touches” his daughter. Lizzie breaks at the end of act one, ending with the brutal slaughter of her parents (excellently portrayed by two pumpkins stuffed with spaghetti and jam among other things). She plays the break down with such passion that those poor pumpkins are all over the front row by the end of the act. Her Danish accent is very noticeable but she brings it on board as part of the character, making it work. 

US-Born Eden Espinosa plays Emma Lenora Borden, who is the mother figure of Lizzie, explained in her first song “Sweet Little Sister”. Emma leaves halfway through the first act and returns at the beginning of the second act. Eden is fierce throughout the show, and her character is always upright and proper. But Emma is also rude to anyone who isn’t her sister. Her act two belter “What The Fuck Now, Lizzie?” has Eden singing a song with so many f-bombs it’s surprising it’s not a world record. 

Bleu Woodward plays Alice Manely Russell, Lizzie’s next door neighbour and supposed lover. Alice is a secretive young lady, who explains to the audience very early on that she is besotted with Lizzie. Her biggest song, “Will You Stay?” was delivered with brilliant emotion and her voice echoed through the walls and into the hearts of the audience. Lizzie and Alice share a small, lovely kiss at the end of the song, and by the beginning of act two, they both go off stage to share some naughty fun. Alice’s emotion is captured perfectly in every song she has a main part it. During the second act, Alice is scared but also attracted to Lizzie. She betrays her love for Lizzie in court and speaks against her. 

Finally, Jodie Jacobs plays Bridget Sullivan (sometimes called Maggie by Miss Emma and Miss Lizzie). Bridget is a mischievous, comedic narrator character. Whilst Alice is always trying to stop the main action happening, Bridget is always there to make sure something does happen, no matter what. Bridget turns some of the sadder parts of the show into comedic moments, and Jodie Jacobs delivers lines and action extremely well. During the song “Why Are All These Heads Off?” she shows extreme energy as she bounces around the stage. 

The four girls together provide powerhouse vocals. From the opening number, we can tell that their voices blend extremely well. The voices shake the house along with the amazing music, provided by a six-piece rock band. The music really stands out and brings the story well into the 21st century, with rock styles varying from hair band rock to screamo. Victoria Bussert’s amazing direction was suited to each cast members style and personality. This show is a great night out, you will be jamming in your seat. A flawless production, it showcases the best that London and Denmark have to offer in a collaborative production with Aria Entertainment and Fredericia Teater. 


Lizzie is running at the Greenwich Theatre until the 12th of March.

Charlie & Nathan xoxo

REVIEW: The Girl From Mars – The Britpop Musical

Advertised as “The Britpop Rocky Horror”, The Girl From Mars is a jukebox musical currently touring rock venues across the UK. We attended their performance at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth to see the show and review it from a theatre-goer’s perspective. We actually knew nothing about this show before seeing it so our review is completely un-biased.

Our first reaction, as we walked into the auditorium (which is usually used for bands and singers), was that the set design is pretty basic, a few britpop flags dotted around and the instruments pre-set up. The logo also was on the back wall.

The show starts with a voice-over telling the tale of how the martians are, basically, dying and so they’re going to visit earth to find a male to mate with. Then we meet an alien…goddess, shall we call her? And she sings the classic song ‘Ready to Go’. We are then introduced to Sally, a barmaid, and Leon, a guitarist and vocalist for a band. The band don’t want to play rock anymore, they want to be a boyband.

Then they see something crash into the tree, and assume it’s drag racers. Suddenly the alien goddess from before appears, introducing herself as Nyah. She tells the people in the bar of her plan to mate with a male and that they cannot stop her, and to prove so she enlists the help of her pet…robot? Basically, it was a giant marionette puppet that walked through the aisle to the front of the stage, where it was quickly fought by Sally and Leon, who destroyed it with an electric guitar. Sally then locks Nyah in the cellar.

In the cellar, Sally tells Nyah that on earth it’s not just boy-girl relationships. Nyah tells the audience that she might be developing a crush on Sally with the song ‘Creep’ by Radiohead. Leon insults Sally for not killing the alien, thus ending act one.

Act two begins with an argument between Sally and Leon. Two secret agents come to rescue(?) Nyah, much to her dismay. Sally then discovers that Nyah has gone missing. In a dream sequence, we see Leon’s yearning to be a rock god with the song Common People, which brought the house down. Nyah then sings ‘Oops, I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears. Why? I actually don’t know, but it was fierce. Sally comes up with a plan that, instead of taking a man to Mars, she’ll just give Nyah Leon’s sperm. She then asks Nyah to take her back to Mars. Sally and Leon say their goodbyes, and Nyah and Sally depart earth. An agent then comes to watch Leon’s band, and everyone’s happy!

The show has many positive elements but nothing’s perfect. The show, from the very beginning was plagued with microphone and sound issues. We could barely hear the amazing vocals over the drums, yet what we could hear was amazing. From the very beginning, the choreography of the two secret agents was fierce, although sometimes they were out of sync or didn’t know what they were doing.

The show was full of well-known tunes and the (slightly drunk) audience loved to sing along and get up and dance. The encore went on for slightly longer than it should have, and there were a few times that I could feel the script tried hard to cram in as many songs as possible.

Despite this, the show had amazing energy levels, an amazing band and amazing vocals, especially coming from Natasha, who played Nyah. The company were full of talent and deserve a better sound crew! The sound crew, I can tell, were working hard but the venue was, obviously suited for a rock venue.

The show was extremely funny, and often crude. The cast also used the tech and costume mishaps as an advantage and worked them into the script. There were times when the SFX were delayed and we lost part of the story, and some lines, which were meant to be funny, didn’t get through to the audience due to the cast having problems saying them, but the audience found the mishap funnier than the actual line.

Alongside the SFX mishaps, the microphones sometimes cut out during songs and dialogue – most noticeably Niall, who played Leon, suffered with this problem.

Julia, who played Sally, also struggled with this problem but both actors worked through it like true performers.

At some points in the show, it’s easy to spot that the show was conceived in six months but then it really pulls through for a great night out. If you’re a fan of britpop, crude comedy and b-movies, this show is one not to be missed.

3 stars.jpg

Nathan & Charlie xoxo

The Girl From Mars is playing in Birmingham on the 22nd of April. For tickets and more info click here.

Exclusive! In The Writer’s Room of the new JACK THE RIPPER MUSICAL!

Hey guys! Charlie and Nathan here, we’re back with another interview with not only one, but two writers of the new Jack The Ripper musical, Christopher Pelling and Aaron Barker. They’re back to discuss more on all things JTR!

Describe your thought process whilst writing the show.

Christopher: I think that my part to play is to really capture the truth in these events, and express them through my lyrics and music. It takes precision to get the right effect, and I know I want to get it right and serve justice to these events. The opportunity to make this has certainly opened my eyes on the subject, and I hope it will open the eyes of others too.

Aaron: For me it’s simply abAaout finding the inspiration, and with us writing a musical based on the true events of Jack The Ripper, it’s all about what actually happened and working out how to adapt a true event into a stage adaptation aimed to the vision me and Christopher share, we have a very similar creative common ground and that’s something I value and work with as a writer. The forefront of my mind is the vision and what will look and sound good as a musical.

What parts of the story will the songs tell?

Christopher: The songs will fill some of the key moments and possibly fill in the gaps that have been potentially missed out. I want the songs to stick with the audience, to bring out the truth and highlight the moments that make the events what they are today.

Aaron: The songs will certainly help to develop the plot and with any musical contain a few show stoppers! We want to set up an image of who Jack The Ripper could have been with out saying “Oh yes, it’s him” but give an idea into his mind and madness as well as capture the atmosphere and the aggression of the citizens of Whitechapel and the two police forces in the investigation.

What musicals have inspired this show entirely?

Aaron: Absolutely! For me the main influences for us both be Jekyll & Hyde, Sweeney Todd, Dracula and Frankenstein. Myself personally, as generic as it sounds have taken a hint of influence from Les Misérables and some of my all time favourites like the element of tragedy from both Blood Brothers and Whistle Down The Wind. Absolutely, there’s something about Jekyll & Hyde that’s so capivating and atmospheric, from the very get go, the genius that is Frank Wildhorn has the ability to throw so many emotions in the mix and get the audience locked into a story and feel so many levels of atmosphere! And that’s exactly what me and Christopher what in Jack The Ripper: The Musical.

Christopher: ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ has been something that definitely kept me going. It’s the perfect dark atmosphere, it conveys the story-line perfectly and I believe it’s something I want to live up to. Many other thriller-type musicals such as ‘Dracula’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ have all contributed the desired atmosphere that I want to create in my own way and I’m sure that together Aaron and I will create it perfectly.

Where do you see the show in 20 years time?

Aaron: I hope the show can be in London! The home of Jack The Ripper! A West End run would be perfect, I also have hopes of it touring the UK and Internationally to Europe, Asia and Australia. I also would be honoured seeing amateur, youth and school groups. We have a few ideas lurking groups performing the show, as it’s something different and at the same time for students, educational! We have a few ideas as to where the show will get performed, it’s a matter of aiming for them and hoping that the show can only strengthen.

Are there any novels/books about Jack The Ripper that have become a part of the shows text?

Aaron: Not really no, we’re just watching documentaries and finding out information by informative online resources. If it wasn’t for my history teacher in Year 9 the spark wouldn’t have triggered, and I wouldn’t have been writing this musical! I owe it all to her!

Christopher: I’ve currently been looking at many different documentaries on Jack the Ripper, I’ve also been in discussion with my history tutor on the matter, as he has a large expanse of knowledge on it.

How will you manage the graphic parts of the story?

Aaron: We haven’t yet thought on staging for the graphic nature of his killings, but definitely the atmosphere and the fear! We have a vision and when it comes to staging it we’ll cross that bridge then with the production team. All I can say is, Blood, and hopefully, lot’s of it! In terms of what we’ve written, so far the tension is immense, I often read over the draft script thinking, “did I write that?!” As it’s so sadistic and hopefully justifies what happened on these true events

Christopher: I think currently we just want to get our main material so we have something to work with first. At least with some decent material we have a show to put together! I’m sure there will be plenty of graphic nature to show in the musical, after all, what’s Jack the Ripper without a few buckets of blood?

And finally, any thoughts on ticket prices? Will they be Hamilton extreme?

Christopher: Ticket prices are beyond my thinking. I’d like to think we’d get decent money from the show, but I couldn’t say. Aaron would know more about this than me, I can assure you.

Aaron: For a world premiere, NO, I understand that musical is extremely popular and written by an established writer, therefore the ticket prices are through the roof, but for us as brand new writers and a brand new musical, absolutely not! We want as many people to come and see the show as possible whilst being blown away for good value! We haven’t discussed it yet, so that’s another bridge we’ll cross, but certainly not the price of big blockbuster West End/Broadway shows.

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

Charlie & Nathan xoxo

Musicals YOU Should Really Know About!

Go onto Spotify and type in Musical Theatre you’ll get thousand of results. From Cats to Hamilton and more, it’s practically a goldmine of well-known musicals.

But sometimes the less well-known musicals are the better ones.

Everyone who knows me knows how much I loved Side Show at the Southwark Playhouse last year, it’s one of the best musicals ever written (no, seriously.) yet it’s terribly unknown. Going to a school full of teenagers, I can go and talk to someone about musicals and all they’ll say is “I love Grease!/Hairspray!”. A girl in my music class once turned around to me and said “You like some really weird musicals.” Some of the weird musicals included Hamilton, Waitress and…Side Show. A few lessons later (sorry, good music results!) she was hooked on Side Show and trying to convince her mum to book tickets for her birthday.

There are some great hidden gems, there are some hidden coals (what’s the opposite of a gem?), but here are the lesser known musicals that YOU should know about!

  1. LIZZIE 

Lizzie the musical is based on the life of Lizzie Borden, who murdered her father and step-mother in their house on one sweltering day in August of 1892. The musical has a heavy metal/classic rock score, and it works extremely well to convey Lizzie’s struggles with abuse and bullying from her two parental figures. When her stepmother excludes Lizzie and her sister, Emma, from her father’s will, Emma leaves town. Lizzie’s father spots Lizzie and her neighbour (and supposed lover), Alice, going up to see her pet pigeons, he brutally kills them. Lizzie can’t take anymore and ends up axing the pair. The narrator of the show, Bridget, kind of shakes the story up when things aren’t going very well, and provides a sarcastic and witty comment here and there.

2. AMERICAN PSYCHO

American Psycho is based on the film and novel of the same name. It revolves around Patrick Bateman, a wealthy banker from New York who, as well as being a handsome and stylish businessman, is a serial killer. It features some killer (pardon the pun) music and lyrics and also some classic 80’s songs thrown in here and there! It ran on Broadway for a really short time and it’s a disappointment because I would have loved to have seen this show!

3. EVIL DEAD

Based on the film series of the same name, Evil Dead tells the story of 5 college students who go on a vacation to an old abandoned cabin in the woods (Oh yeah!) and accidentally awake an unstoppable force of demons from an ancient slumber. It features extremely catchy and cheesy music, as well as its own version of The Time Warp! It ran off-Broadway for a while, and I’m surprised it hasn’t had a UK production yet!

4. LIFT

Lift is set in a lift in Covent Garden tube station within the time frame of a minute. A busker tells his interpretations of the stories of the strangers on the lift. It was originally staged in London, but recently I saw an amateur production locally…it was AMAZING!

Read: REVIEW – LIFT: The Musical

5. DOGFIGHT

Dogfight is based on the low-budget extremely unknown movie of the same name. It revolves around Eddie Birdlace, a US Marine, on his final night before he goes to fight in Vietnam. He meets a girl, Rose, who he invites to the “dogfight” which is basically a part in which the guy with the ugliest girl wins a sum of money. Rose doesn’t win, but she finds out the true intentions of the party and attempts to change Birdlace’s horrible actions. It’s a gorgeous musical with music/lyrics by Pasek & Paul (Dear Evan Hansen). 

Hope you get stuck into these amazing shows!

 

Nathan xoxo