Review: Pop Punk High @ (Le) Poisson Rouge

Reviewed by Annie Zeleznikow

The show began with a standing crowd and no chairs (except some couches and a reserved section), not what one expects when heading to the theatre. And as the unconventional seats forewarned, Pop Punk High was no ordinary show. The evening I attended began with a band, Dude Ranch, singing and encouraging the audience to shout “DICK”. The band was loud, and I should have paid more attention when the merchandise stands outside the theatre had earplugs for sale. Despite the intense volume, Dude Ranch sufficiently warmed the audience, preparing them for the power of pop-punk music. 

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The show began in earnest with the protagonist, Derek (Ben Lapidus) yelling at his parents (Mclean Peterson and Eric Wiegand), telling them he hates them. Which seemed odd to me, as I have a deep respect and love for my parents. Little was I to know how clever the foreshadowing was in this overtly silly show. The cleverness of this show, as a form of self-deprivation, is unfortunately overshadowed by the loudness of the dated music.

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While describing the evolution of pop-punk, Tib (Amanda Centeno) states that pop-punk was created by “tak(ing) out the nuance, and leav(ing) the power cord”. How accurate she was. Although moving at times, this show pandered to a specific niche music fan. Despite that, the hilarious show remains nostalgic, if sometimes a bit silly. And Tib’s charisma and charm help elevate the show.

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The crux of the story is that Derrick, a loser with a needledick, sprays a magic axe bottle, releasing a dead Avril Lavigne (Kelly Krauter), who offers Derek 3 wishes. The ridiculous wishes come as no surprise, despite its predictability the wishes nicely foreshadow the outcome of the show. The story itself is whimsical, and at some times thin, logic crumbles under narrative pressure.

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The pacing of the show and the quality of the songs were excellent. The songs meaningfully moved the story forward, providing excellent rhythm for the show. The ensemble continuously sang and danced their hearts out. It was the first time I asked myself what the true meaning of punk-pop was. And I’m surprised a show with such an airy story managed to perfectly provide me with a deep existential question. This show climaxes with a giant dick knocking over the antagonist. Despite that, the evening was enjoyable.

Niched, fun and a bit rude, this silly show will fulfil your 2003 self’s dreams. With all the ups and downs of the show, it creates a positive atmosphere for growth and excitement. I felt empowered as the cast took their bows, to be the best version of myself.

3-stars

Pop Punk High is currently playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge until November 1st, tickets can be purchased here

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REVIEW: V For Victory @ Stockwell Playhouse

Reviewed by Kayleigh Place

V for Victory starts off set in the 1940s just after the war starts between Britain and Germany and is about how the Nazis took over Jersey. I have never seen the film, read the book or watched the musical, I knew nothing about what this rendition was going to entail.

The programme took the form of a ration book which I thought was a nice touch and had a summary of the musical’s premise. I learnt upon arrival that it was the in-concert version of the musical so all emphasis was on the songs. When I entered the theatre, there was a very atmospheric 1940s scene already on stage.

The staging was fantastic, the use of the wooden crates for each scene and the transition of moving them about the stage was hardly noticeable and was conducted very fluidly.

 

They start with the open song which I cringed and flinched at as one of the actors, I believe it was Klemens Koehring, was completely off key and out of tune with the rest of the cast, I hoped that it would not be like that the whole way through! Luckily his solo was beautiful, as was the rest of his performance. I am therefore putting this down to not warming his vocal cords up properly before the show.

However, there was another song that had the same effect; Leanne Coupland, who played Judy, when she sang her solo I nearly put my fingers in my ears! Throughout there was the one note that she consistently missed and I noticed her voice wavering on some notes. It was less noticeable when the cast sang together but, being sat at the front, I could hear it rather well, unfortunately.

I do have a good point to say about the singing; the duet between Georgina Rose Hanson (Liz Edward) and Ben Eagle (Bailiff Edwards) was fantastic! The song was so intense with the overlapping lines and the cues which were so well timed, I would go back just to hear them sing it again!

Considering there was not a lot of dialogue, you could tell there was a lot cut out, everything still flowed nicely. You could see the love story between Thomas and Liz, Liz’s anger at her dad for not standing up to the Nazis for Jersey, how Captain Gunther Scheider was becoming to hate the Nazis and what they stood for because he joined the army to protect his country not enslave. I felt even though it was shortened I still managed to connect with each character, understand their backgrounds, thoughts and feelings.

One of the things the irritated me the most throughout were the costumes. They were great. The cast was dressed appropriately for the era the shoes, the stockings, the hats, the braces, everything was well thought about. But they clearly forgot their IRON! All the guy’s shirts were creased from the beginning and the girls’ dresses looking like they had been retrieved from a bag stuffed with clothes to go to a charity shop! The Captain’s Nazi jacket, although one of the items that wasn’t creased, it did not fit him correctly. You could tell that it was way too big and it looked like a child wearing his dad’s suit jacket!

The acting was spectacular especially from Aaron Bannister-Davis who played the main character, Thomas Carter. The emotion and the facial expressions he used felt like it was real life and at times I almost forgot that I was sat in a theatre. It felt as though I was his friend and I was there to help him through his pain and to stand by his side as he rose up against the Nazis to take our homeland back.

Overall the show itself was great, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I would happily see this again if I could be confident that the quality of the singing had improved. If you like historical musical and don’t mind the odd good song being ruined but are up for an emotional, heartfelt storytelling, I’d strongly recommend you see this.

3-stars

REVIEW: Myth @ The Other Palace

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

Only in the workshop process, Myth is a new rock musical based on the Greek legend Orpheus. The show is presented semi-staged and aims for a full run in the near future.

The show tells the story of Orpheus, a rock-star in his band The Argonauts, with bandmates Jason and Theseus. The Moirai (fates) have their eye on Orpheus and change his fate. They get his band a record label at Underworld Records overseen by Hades and his right-hand woman Medusa, tempt Orpheus with “viper”, a harmful drug, and eventually lead his girlfriend, Eurydice, away from him, leaving Orpheus to quest through the underworld to find her.

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The show was spectacular from start to finish. Before going in to the show, I wasn’t really educated on the stories of Orpheus so it was a pretty strange introduction to the myth, I’ll admit. However, I’m a sucker for rock musicals, so seeing a brand new British rock score was incredible.

The music, book and lyrics, by Sam Cassidy were refreshing and vocally challenging. While it is a rock musical, Cassidy mixed various other styles into the score, most notably rap. This made the music extremely interesting and the cast were working their asses off to sing the score perfectly, which they did.

Orpheus, played by Joel Harper-Jackson, was an extremely well-written character. He has quite an intense character arc, and Harper-Jackson plays the role perfectly. His vocals were pretty insane, and he acted the part flawlessly.

The three fates, Atropos, Lachesis and Clotho, played by Jodie Jacobs, Jodie Steele and Eloise Davies, respectively, provided powerhouse vocals throughout the show and basically narrated the story, overseeing act one and most of act two. These 3 characters were my favourites as they got the best songs and provided the tightest harmonies on the London theatre scene right now.

Matthew McKenna played Hades, the comedic antagonist of the piece. He was smooth and charming, yet truly villainous at heart. McKenna was hilarious and this role was absolutely perfect for him. His sidekick, Miss M, also known as Medusa, was played by Zoe Birkett. Birkett provided a seductive, sassy feel to Medusa and some of her lines had me laughing out loud.

Diana Vickers played Eurydice, Orpheus’ girlfriend. Vickers played the role well, providing vulnerability but also strength at points. The fact that she is hardly seen after act one is incredibly sad, as Vickers’ talent deserves to shine, but she does get to showcase, she gives everything she’s got.

This show is absolutely incredible. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, and it’s deserving of a longer run.

5stars

Myth runs at The Other Palace until 17th March 2018. Click here for tickets and more information.

 

MISS HOPE SPRINGS London Concert Followed by UK Tour!

MISS HOPE SPRINGS PUTS THE WIG BACK IN WIGMORE HALL: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

Experiencing the whirlwind of overnight success, numerous decades after she started her career, this summer will see the West End’s most unique entertainer, the eternally youthful Miss Hope Springs, make her debut at the Wigmore Hall, one of the world’s top classical music venues – which may never be the same once Hope’s sprung there on Friday 16th June 2017 at 10.00pm, followed by UK tour.

The towering blonde ex-Vegas never-say-die show-business trouper Hope brings to the stage a pantechnicon of career wrong turnings and disastrous love affairs. A truly gifted songwriter and captivating performer, Hope will be playing the piano and singing her self-penned all original songs from her brand new LP The Devil Made Me Do It. In a virtuoso performance Hope heartbreakingly moves her audience to tears and then exquisitely makes them laugh out loud. Her new LP is “really a look back over what I call my ‘Ritz to the pits’ life. It’s a trip down memory lane and a bit like that long winter I spent in Copenhagen, back in the day making ‘art films’ it’s not always a pretty sight.”

One of the new album tracks is the previously unreleased Please Don’t Desert Us at Dessert which Hope recently found in ‘her archive’ (an old shoe box under the bottom bunk of the camper-van she shares with her husband Irving and his hairdresser pal Carlos.) “It was written especially for me by Sir Noel Coward over lunch at The Pink Pelican Casino where I was a showgirl in the early sixt – I mean seventies.” Also included in her concert will be firm favourites such as Seedy Little Nightclub in Pigalle, the riotous Zodiac Lover and the truly heart-breaking Queen of Fools.

Hope is cut from the same fabulous sequinned cloth as Dame Edna, Lilly Savage and Danny La Rue, but she responds dismissively “That’s simply a bitchy rumour put about by Goldie Hawn. She’s a nice girl – but can be a little jealous… Listen, I’ve always been tall for my height – end of story!” Hope‘s celebrity fans are as glittering as her stage wear including: Marc Almond, Julian Clary, Rula Lenska, Jonathan Ross, Fenella Fielding, The Beverley Sisters and Lady Helen Windsor.

Still wearing the sequins she left the USA with in 1972, Hope tours her remarkable new show to very selective venues around the UK from June. “I’ve played in the world’s premier rooms from The Dew Drop Inn to the Cucaracha Club, but the Wigmore Hall? My mother Rusty would have been so proud (she’s not dead – we just don’t talk anymore.) Someone said I’m putting the wig back in Wigmore, I don’t know what they’re trying to insinuate, my hair is purely a reflection of my Irish/Lithuanian/Eskimo heritage – just like my double layers of thick black eyelashes…It’s all down to good genes.”

Miss Hope Springs is a truly gifted performer and songwriter, and an accomplished entertainer in the best vaudeville tradition! – Liza Minnelli’s Musical Director Billy Stritch

Wigmore Hall – Friday 16th June at 10.00 pm

Address: 36 Wigmore St, Marylebone, London W1U 2BP.

Phone: 020 7935 2141.

Tickets: £15

Website: wigmore-hall.org.uk

Chapel Arts – Friday 23rd and Saturdat 24th June at 8.00pm

Address: St. James’s Memorial Hall, Lower Borough Walls, Bath BA1 1QR.

Phone: 01225. 461700

Tickets: £20 in advance / £22 on the night

Website http://www.chapelarts.org

Astor Theatre – Saturday 8th July at 8.00pm

Address: Stanhope Rd, Deal Kent CT14 6AB.

Phone: 01304 370220.

Tickets: £20 Website: theastor.org

Wilton’s Music Hall – Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July at 7.00pm

Address: 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, London E1 8JB.

Phone: 020 7702 2789.

Tickets: from £20.

Website: http://www.wiltons.org.uk

The Stables – Friday 14th July at 8.45pm

Address: Stockwell Ln, Wavendon, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU Milton Keynes.

Tickets: £20

Phone: 01908 280800.

Website: http://www.stables.org

Komedia – Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd July at 8.00pm

44-47 Gardner St, Brighton BN1 1UN.

Tickets £15 / £12.50 cons.

Phone: 0845 293 8480.

Website: http://www.komedia.co.uk

Miss Hope Springs is the creation of composer, lyricist, pianist and comic actor Ty Jeffries son of the late British screen legend Lionel Jeffries who starred in many films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and wrote and directed The Railway Children. Ty’s formative years living in Tinsel Town lend authenticity to his multi-layered portrayal of fading glamour-puss Hope.
Ty is a classically trained pianist (Purcell School) and for the last 5 years his glittering alter ego has been starring in London’s West End top cabaret rooms and in the cabaret rooms and theatres of New York, LA and San Francisco.