5 ways traveling makes me a better theatregoer

by Annie Zeleznikow

If you follow me on Instagram (which you all should @_anniedaynow_) you might have noticed that I am traveling through Europe. Through numerous train journeys and countless cinema-going experiences outside of the English-speaking world, I feel I have gained new insight into extracting and enjoying the most from my theatre experience. I wanted to share these new insights with you, dear reader. Going to new places and exposing yourself to foreign cultures enriches one’s understanding of themselves, the world, and THEATRE. Travelling is marvelous, as is theatre; and both are deserving of your time and attention.

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  1. Be courteous of others and they will do the same. Show respect to others, and if something goes wrong, you are in it together. You’ll help each other out. if you freak out because you don’t speak German and you’re afraid you’re heading towards Russia, ask for some help from a fellow passenger, usually, they are willing to help a sobbing 20-something-year-old.
  2. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. When traveling, I would mostly wear yoga pants and trainers. And do you know who cared? No one. It was comfortable and able to do the task at hand- fall asleep on public transport. If your nervous about what to wear to a Broadway show, wear whatever makes you comfortable, or whatever feels best for the occasion. I have seen heaps of people rock Potter wear to Cursed Child, and they are all killing it.
  3. If you don’t understand what is going on, just lean into it. Someone will explain it afterward if you remember to ask. Just enjoy what is happening around you right now, everything else will follow.
  4. Take time to close your eyes. Although I loved watching the French countryside roll by, sometimes I need a rest from the overload of stimulus. Often big production shows can be overwhelming, and demand attention from all your sense. I try to close my eyes if the songs are particularly sweet, and I want to focus on the vocals.
  5. Do what makes you happy! All experiences are your own- and this summer I’ve tried to take upon myself only tasks that make me happy. The same goes for theatre! I’ve seen some shows multiple times, and although its costly, and I am not widening my musical repertoire, those shows make me happy. And I get something new and exciting from the same show each time I see it.
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Eight Powerful Shows that I Love

Written by Annie Zeleznikow

I have seen a lot of theatre throughout my life. I was lucky enough to have parents who valued theatre, and grandparents who could afford tickets for us. I travelled a lot as a child and my dad took great pleasure in finding shows in strange and wonderful locations. My life has always been filled with show tunes, and so here is a sneak peek into some of my favorites, and some stories about why they mean so much to me.

8) The Sound of Music

The loveliest musical. Julie Andrews is truly a fabulous gift to the world. I think the best way to sufficiently explain my love for this show is to first watch this recreation, made by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father, Luis.

This was a musical that taught me the value of perseverance. Maria and the Von Trapp’s feared for their lives, so they climbed mountains and escaped, all while singing.

When I was about 13 my family went to Saltsburg. This is where the movie was shot, and where the story is based. There are Sound of Music tours, and we went on one. It was magical, we danced and sang where Ms. Andrews had danced and sung. The story came to life as we ran across the fountain and looked across the mountaintops. The Sound of Music is a movie that I have watched countless times, and I know I will continue to watch it, as it never gets old.

7) Guys and Dolls

When I was in twelfth grade I spent one weekend procrastinating. This was a week before a major exam. And I spent both Saturday and Sunday watching guys and dolls. I watched it on repeat. I watched it over and over again. It took me away from the chaos of my life, and it gave me an escape. I got to watch Marlon Brando fall in love, again and again. And the music was an enchanting combination of cabaret, soulful ballads, and sappy love songs. It was the perfect distraction from a horrendously stressful time. And it brought me such joy and relief from the stress of the real world around me.

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6) 13

This was the last musical that I participated in during high school. And I loved it. It was my introduction to the wonderful Jason Robert Brown. I had never really been exposed to a pop style musical before this show. The quirky characters fill the show with clever songs and funny numbers. The ballads are fantastic, and the lyrics are catchy. I was so lucky to be involved in such a fun show.

NOTE: While trying to find photos to add to the article I found the whole show, which was recorded and put on YouTube. Please enjoy my minor role as a preppy (chorus member), that’s me in the green blouse.

5) 1984

A most terrifyingly moving play. I saw this during my first week living in NYC. It was powerful and overwhelming. At one point the house lights went up, and it was clear that this terrifying dystopia that was created within the show was seeping into the real world. It was powerful and moving and I thought it was amazing.

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4) The Mountaintop

This was a play about the final day of MLK’s life, and it was my first introduction to MLK and the Human Rights Movement that occurred in the US in the 60’s. The Melbourne Theatre Company produced this show in 2013. I saw the play with my grandmother, sister, and cousins. My grandmother would buy season tickets to the theatre each year for my sister, cousins and myself. There were many amazing and powerful plays during the years that we went to the theatre, but when I started writing this list The Mountaintop jumped out at me. I remember it concluding with a video montage. And the montage included footage of Obama, and I started to tear up. The contrast of MLK and Obama was powerful and provoked powerful emotions within.

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3) Kinky Boots

My mums favorite. No way around it. She adores Callum Francis, the Australian Lola. We speak of him like an old friend, we speak about how he is doing, where he is living etc. I took a class called LGBT Community through the Life Span. During one class we were asked to write up different thing that affected how LGBT communities are viewed. I proudly wrote “Kinky Boots”, and although some of my classmates laughed, the Professor acknowledged it, this show impacted worldviews, and empowered people to live and be themselves. This show brought LGBT rights to the forefront, exclaiming to the world that we should all “Be who you want to be.” The unconditional acceptance in this show acts as such a powerful tool. Each time I’ve seen the show I’ve had an involuntary grin on my face.

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2) Dear Evan Hansen

This is one of the most powerful shows I’ve seen. I, like most audience members, found myself in tears. After all, Evan just wants to connect, and I can understand that. He gets caught up in a lie that he can’t escape, and he just wants to be seen and loved. I felt connected to Evan. The pop music is also a pleasant addition to the wonderfully classic repertoire of my favorite musicals. I keep coming back to this show. Each time I get excited about a new musical that opens in NYC, I get drawn away by Dear Evan Hansen, I find myself wanting to see it again and again. Despite the high costs. Each time I’ve seen it it’s been dynamic. All parts of this show make a mark; the music, the story, the acting- each connect to a deep part of me.

Dear Evan Hansen

1) Hamilton

I really owe so much to the genius work of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Although I was brought up with musicals, my obsession with the genre didn’t blossom until I heard the exquisite lyrics of Miranda’s tantalizing show. I am not American and knowing the history of America didn’t excite me in the same way it might excite a history teacher in the US. But this show lit a flame under me. And my desire to see the show quickly turned deeper and became an unquenchable thirst for Miranda’s materials. I moved to New York. I waited in line for 7 hours. I saw Hamilton. From my bedroom in Melbourne, Australia, I had made it! Hamilton is everywhere now. Rapping “My Shot” to the 4-year-old that I picked up from school brought me joy, and I hope to continue doing it. My favorite TV shows make jokes about how hard it is to get tickets. NYC appreciates and loves Miranda, and I do too.

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Olivier Awards Nominations: MY PREDICTIONS

Written by Nathan Deane

It’s not common practice to predict nominations for awards ceremonies. But the 2017-2018 theatre season in London was so great that the Olivier Eligibility is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I feel like I have to tell everyone (is predict the right word? Oh well.) what I hope is nominated for the Theatre section of the Oliviers this year! I’ve limited myself to 3 or 4 nominations per category. These are not the official nominations; just my predictions/wishes.

Best Revival

The Birthday Party – Harold Pinter Theatre

Frozen – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Glengarry Glen Ross – Playhouse Theatre

Stepping Out – Vaudeville Theatre

New Play

The Ferryman – Gielgud Theatre

John – National Theatre (Dorfman)

Lady Day At Emmerson’s Bar & Grill – Wyndham’s Theatre

Pinocchio – National Theatre (Lyttleton)

New Comedy

Labour of Love – Noël Coward Theatre

Mischief Movie Night – Arts Theatre

The Miser – Garrick

Musical Revival

42nd Street – Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Follies – National Theatre (Olivier)

On The Town – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

New Musical

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Apollo Theatre

The Grinning Man – Trafalgar Studios

Hamilton – Victoria Palace Theatre

The Toxic Avenger – Arts Theatre

Entertainment & Family

Dick Whittington – London Palladium

Five Guys Named Moe – Marble Arch Theatre

The Hunting of the Snark – Vaudeville

Affiliate

The B*easts – Bush Theatre

tick, tick…BOOM! – Park Theatre

Room – Theatre Royal Stratford East

Disco Pigs – Trafalgar Studios 2

Charlie’s Top 10 Shows of 2017! 

By Charlie White

So this year I have been lucky enough to see some incredible shows and trying to rank them  has been one of the toughest decisions ever! But here we go, my top 10 shows of this year are…

10: The Wild Party

The Other Palace

A rather adult themed show involving a group of people in the 1920s throwing a party which got a bit out of control (to put it lightly). I think the general concept was good and the people were great, just didn’t really have enough substance for me.

9: Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Courtyard Theatre, Hereford

A fun loving heart warming story which tells the tale of drag queens making there way across australia to perform their act. But for one of them, there’s a slightly more personal motif for heading on the road. Even though this was just an amateur production, the talent was amazing and it was such a fun show with all the cheesy hits you know and love.

8: The Wedding Singer

Touring

I managed to see this on tour with the wonderful Jon Robyns playing ‘casualty of love’ wedding singer Robbie Hart who gets his heart broken on his wedding day. He then meets a certain young woman who might just be able to fix it…whilst helping to plan her wedding! Classic 80s vibes and really enjoyable show (plus Jon Robyns is super talented and hilarious in this role).

 7: Mamma Mia

Novello Theatre

Using the great well known Music of Abba, this show takes us on a journey to a Greek island where a young girl is about to be married, but before she does , she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is, she has invited all 3 possible dads! Great night out with all the Abba hits and loveable characters with a heart warming story.

 6: Aladdin

Prince Edward Theatre

The classic Disney tale of the diamond in the rough who goes from ‘street rat’ to Prince Ali and shows Princess Jasmine a whole new world whilst trying to stop the evil doings of the royal advisor, Jafar. Great show stopping numbers like Friend Like Me, this is a perfect pick for the younger ones.

 5: 42nd Street 

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

With the biggest cast in the West End, 42nd street is a spectacle of dancing feet as they try to get to Broadway but with the leading lady Injured, can they convince newbie Peggy Saywer to step in and wow the audience. The sheer size of this cast makes it very impressive with toe tapping numbers like lullaby of Broadway, it’s a definite crowd pleaser.

 4: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Duke of York’s theatre

When a group of young Scottish girls go to Edinburgh for a choir competition, they decide to see what sort of trouble they can get up to (the answer is quite a lot). But whilst beautifully singing classic songs from ELO, we see how each of the girls find themselves as we witness this journey of discovery. The music was a great accompaniment to the story and the harmonies were spot on!

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 3: Half A Sixpence 

Noel Coward Theatre 

Years after Arthur Kipps leaves his childhood sweetheart to work selling haberdashery, his life changes when he discovers he’s come in to a large amount of money. Living the life of luxury, he courts a fine young lady from a wealthy family. However, when he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, he wonders if he’s made a mistake. I actually thoroughly enjoyed this show, Charlie Kemp really does shine and the energy in this show is fabulous!

 2: The Toxic Avenger 

Arts Theatre 

A town called Tromaville in the state of New Jersey has a new smell in town..it’s giant vats of toxic nuclear waste! So who will save New Jersey? Melvin ferd the third! After being tossed in to the nuclear waste, he came out a ‘big green freak’ but luckily he’s in love with a visually impaired librarian (thank God she’s blind!) and he uses his new found powers to save the town from Jersey girl mayor Belgoody and the toxic nuclear waste. This show was so hilarious my cheeks actually ached from smiling and laughing so much and David Bryant did a fantastic job with the soundtrack.  Click here to read our full review of The Toxic Avenger!

 1: Lizzie the Musical

Greenwich Theatre

The infamous story of Lizzie Borden and the unfortunate death of her father and step mother told in unique way. With a cast of just 4 incredibly talented women, a fantastic rock score goes alongside this gothic mystery based on a true case of what might have happened in the House of Borden. I have to admit I was a bit unsure when I first went to see it but by the end I absolutely fell in love with it. The girls rocked it with insane voices,  a unique story and it’s such a shame it didn’t get a longer run. Click here to read our full review of Lizzie The Musical!

Nathan’s TOP 10 SHOWS of 2017!

By Nathan Deane

Ah, yes. The time has come for us to look back on what we saw in 2017 and put together our top 10 of the shows we saw.  I’ve been working on mine for the past week, and now I’ve seen my last new piece of theatre for the year, here’s my top 10!

10: tick, tick…BOOM!

Park Theatre

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“tick, tick…BOOM!” is Johnathan Larson’s autobiographical musical, often overshadowed in the success of his other musical, Rent. The production was directed by Bronagh Lagan, produced by Aria Entertainment and Joe C Brown, and starred Chris Jenkins, Gillian Saker and Jordan Shaw. This production was immersive, minimal and wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

9: Bananaman: The Musical

Southwark Playhouse

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Based on the comic strip and animated TV series, Bananaman tells the story of Eric Wimp, an average schoolboy, who turns into a superhero (the titular Bananaman) whenever he eats a banana. Directed by Mark Perry, produced by Sightline Entertainment and starring a large cast, the show is brand new for 2017 and was an extremely fun, camp and silly night out.

8: Hair

The Vaults

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Back for it’s 50th anniversary, Hair tells the tale of a tribe of hippies in New York’s Central Park. This production was fresh, vibrant and extremely fun. Read my full review of Hair here.

7: Lady Day At Emmerson’s Bar and Grill

Wyndham’s Theatre

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Starring the incomparable Audra McDonald, Lady Day shows us one of Billie Holiday’s very last concerts before her death in the 60’s. The show is painfully beautiful, and Audra’s performance as Billie Holiday was truly spectacular. The play made me cry, laugh and feel many different emotions. I was lucky to have been able to see the show twice.

6: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Apollo Theatre

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One of London’s newest musicals, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie tells the true story of Jamie, a 16 year old boy who wants to be a drag queen and go to prom in a dress. The story was relatable, emotional and often funny. John McCrea is a real star in the making, and Dan Gillespie-Sells’ music is catchy and modern.

5: The Toxic Avenger

The Arts Theatre

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Taking the mick out of superhero movies is a tricky game, but The Toxic Avenger does exactly that. And it’s hilarious. Read my full review of The Toxic Avenger HERE!

4: The Wild Party

The Other Palace

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Gin, skin, sin and fun are four words to describe this devilishly delightful show. This show was sexy, emotional and…wild. The cast were sensational, and Michael John LaChiusa’s music is terrific. It tells the story of Queenie and Burrs, two love-birds stuck in a relationship going nowhere. To spice things up a bit, they throw a party fuelled by bathtub gin, sex, and cocaine. It also features themes like murder, racism, and various other things…some worse than others.

3: Pinocchio

The National Theatre

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Colourful, wonderful, and magical. This show can brighten even the darkest winters. Read my full review of Pinocchio HERE!

2: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Duke of York Theatre

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What happens when 6 Scottish schoolgirls go out on the town in Edinburgh before the nation’s biggest choir competition? Well, that’s what Our Ladies is all about. The fiery cast of 6 girls backed by a 3 piece band, singing songs ranging from Mendelssohn to ELO made hairs stand on end. The story is wonderful, it’s not just about girls getting wasted, it’s about discovering yourself in your teenage years. And that’s a tricky thing to get right, but Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour did it beautifully.

1: Lizzie

Greenwich Theatre

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4 women singing killer rock and roll songs in tight leather whilst telling the story of American murderess Lizzie Borden? Sounds epic. And this show was epic. Only playing 20 performances means only a small handful of people got to experience this fierce production. Let’s hope it gets a revival soon! Read my full review of Lizzie HERE!

Musicals YOU Should Really Know About!

Written by Nathan Deane

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

 

MY TOP 9 SHOWS I SAW IN 2016!

Happy new year! As we head into 2017 (what am I saying, it’s the ninths as I write this), I decided to count down my top 10 shows of 2016.

9. Legally Blonde, Curve Theatre Leicester

Legally Blonde is a really feel-good show. I’d already seen it once before, but I was extremely hungry for more Elle Woods so I travelled to Leicester to see the show with Charlie. The show was absolutely amazing, it was completely different to the original Broadway, London and tour productions. 

8. Hand To God, Vaudeville Theatre London

Hand To God is an extremely funny play set in a small American town. It centres on a group of young Christian children, including Timothy, his mother, and the pastor. When Timothy’s hand puppet gets possessed, hilarity ensues. I loved this play so much, I wish I saw it more.

7. Spamalot, Kings Theatre Portsmouth

Spamalot is definitely not the best show out there. In fact, I was never really bothered about seeing this until a local theatre group put it on. The theatre group is one of the best in the area. The production was incredibly high quality and music, set, lighting and direction were some of the best I’ve seen for an amateur production. 

6. Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre London

2016 was the year of Kinky Boots. Both me and Charlotte saw the show in 2016, and we loved every minute. From the opening to the finale, Kinky Boots has you dancing in your seat and smiling the whole way through. Matt Henry is amazing as Lola and so was Killian Donnelly as Charlie. I think it may be time I booked another trip to the Price and Son factory.

5. The Bodyguard, Dominion Theatre London

I usually HATE Jukebox musicals so I wasn’t too excited to see this show, but am I glad I got tickets! The shows energy was up high the whole way throughout and Whitney’s songs were transferred gorgeously through the show.

4. In The Heights, Kings Cross Theatre London

In The Heights is one of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s masterpieces. I saw it in April of 2016, and twice in January of 2017, even closing night. I SAW LIN! (Video here) But this show is such a gorgeous show about family and that is really shown within the cast. They’re so close they could be a family!

3. wonder.land, National Theatre London

This show got really bad reviews. I kind of see why but for the most part I loved this show! The use of technology was gorgeous and the original music by Damon Albarn really helped bring the story of Alice In Wonderland into the 21st Century. It’s such a shame that the cast recording doesn’t sound good…at all. I was extremely excited for the cast recording too.

2. Lift, Stage Door Southampton

Lift was done so well it’s hard to be forgotten. I didn’t expect this quality or talent from a small amateur musical theatre group in Southampton. The music was flawless as was the acting and the staging. It’s a shame that the actors weren’t wearing mics.

  1. Side Show, Southwark Playhouse London

Side Show was literally the best show I saw last year. I saw it three times and honestly…three times wasn’t enough. I loved the whole show start to finish. Louise Dearman and Laura Pitt-Pulford as conjoined twins?! Sign me up!

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 of 2016!

Nathan xoxo