He’s Here…- The Phantom of the Opera New Cast Review

Reviewed by Sophie Reed

Phantom of the Opera, a timeless classic that has been running on the West End for 31 years. I went to see the new cast at the evening show of the 19th of October and was thoroughly impressed. For me, it’s in my top 5 favourite musicals and I can be quite critical when it comes to the performance. Along with this performance, I’ve seen the show 3 times live on stage and this performance definitely lived up to my expectations.

The first actor I’ve got to talk about is Ben Lewis who has just taken over as the Phantom. Ben is probably most well known for playing the Phantom in the shows sequel, Love Never Dies, a performance which I have seen and wasn’t very fond of. Because of this, I was quite anxious about what he would be like as the younger Phantom. Ben is most definitely better suited to Phantom than to Love Never Dies. There was something about the Phantom score that is better suited to his voice. In addition, for someone who has only be playing the role on stage for a month, it came very naturally to him. I don’t know whether if this was because he’s played another version of the Phantom before, but if not, god he was good. My favourite part of his performance was in the Final Lair when Raoul shows up. Ben, just sits on his throne, utterly bored at Raoul’s pleas to see Christine. His ‘Your lover makes a passionate plea’ was more mocking than it was threatening. Also, in ‘Stranger Than You Dreamt It’ the difference between masked and unmasked Phantom was so clear, he wasn’t just using the mask to cover his physical problem, but also his emotional problems. It was nice to see a different take that I hadn’t seen before.

The next member of the company that needs to be discussed is Kelly Mathieson, who played the role of Christine. WHAT A VOICE! Her high notes were just perfection and so was her acting. During Notes II and ‘Wishing’ you could see how broken, confused and scared Christine was. My favourite part was when she sobbed into her cloak between the ‘and speaks my name’ line and ‘Little Lottie’ in ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ it made her seem more vulnerable, it made Wishing seem a lot more than Christine missing her father. Kelly made it seem like Christine was begging for strength. It really struck me. However, by the final lair, her Christine was feisty! She was blocking and protecting Raoul for her life. Her ‘You deceived me’ was just mind blowing, she screamed it, like she did not care anymore.  In addition, another thing I liked was the face that Kelly is a trained ballet dancer, I was almost annoyed that Christine doesn’t get a lot of dancing in the show apart for ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Masquerade’ because it would’ve given her more chance to show off those skills.

At the performance, the actor who played Raoul was the 1st Cover, Jordan Simon Pollard and he proved, that understudies are just as good as the covers. This was his first day on as Raoul and looked like he’d been playing the role for years. A favourite part of his performance was in ‘All I Ask of You’ when he dipped Christine into a kiss. It was so romantic! Another part of his performance that I liked was that you always felt liked he protected her, not just because it was his duty, but also because he really loved her. His reaction to the Phantom and Christine kissing was also utterly heart-breaking.

The other main characters were also particularly strong. Georgia Ware who played Meg Giry, brought a new innocence to a usually bland character. Paul Ettore Tabone and Lara Martins chemistry on stage make the Carlotta and Piangi romance seem more real, genuine and less staged than what I’ve seen in the past. In addition, they’re comedy timing was next to none. Siôn Llyod as Firmin and understudy Andre, Richard Kent, both held the comedy timing needed for the two managers without going too satire and over the top, like Lara done perfectly with Carlotta.

The only thing disappointing with the production would be the fact that there were some technical difficulties with the chandelier falling, some glitchy lighting. However, if you weren’t as experienced with the show, they wouldn’t have been as noticeable. I also sort of liked that it went slightly wrong because it shows that even a show that has been running for 31 years can still have problems like that.

Overall, I give this timeless classic 5 stars!

5stars

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REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger @ The Arts Theatre

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

Pollution and superheroes combined don’t sound like the most appealing subject for a musical – so as we sat in the Arts Theatre waiting for the show to start, we here hesitant to find out what was about to unfold in front of us.

The Toxic Avenger is based on a cult 80’s horror/superhero movie of the same name, which was considered so horrifying many cinemas refused to show it.

The musical, however, has had a slightly different history. The musical’s London premiere was in 2016 at the Southwark Playhouse and subsequently transferred to the West End this year. The show tells the tale of Melvin Ferd (The Third), a pro-environment scientist who falls into a vat of toxic goo, emerging as The Toxic Avenger – a green mutant with superhuman strength, aptly nicknamed Toxie. Toxie has to save the town of Tromaville from the pollution caused by the evil mayor as well as win the heart of the town’s blind librarian, Sarah.

Mark Anderson, who plays Toxie, is such a gem. It’s rare to find a musical theatre actor that plays a role as perfectly as he plays Melvin/Toxie. Mark’s singing voice is crazy amazing, his dynamics are out of this world, especially in his big act two number “You Tore My Heart Out”. His acting is so fresh, and the contrast between Melvin and Toxie is insane, they’re both the same person yet have so many differences, aside from skin type.

Emma Salvo plays Sarah, the librarian. I can’t think of any other musical theatre characters that are blind throughout the entirety of a show, so seeing Sarah is kind of like…a breath of fresh air? Emma brings an innocence to the character that helps bring the laughs. Emma stops the show. Literally. (You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve seen the show.) Her belt blows the audience out of the water, especially at the end of “All Men Are Freaks” – probably the funniest moments in the show is Sarah’s obsession with Oprah Winfrey, which I relate to a lot. I mean, who doesn’t love Oprah?!

Emma Salvo & Mark Anderson, photo credit Irina Chira

Ché Francis (as Black Dude) and Oscar Conlon-Morrey (as White Dude) have possibly the hardest job in the show, playing 5+ characters raging from the town bullies to sassy ladies Shinequa and Diane. They sing some vocally challenging, crazily written songs as well as crushing some of the fastest costume changes I have ever seen. How do they do it? I just don’t know! But they rock!!

Last but definitely not least, Natalie Hope plays Melvin’s mother, Ma Ferd, the town’s corrupt Mayor, and a nun. Her vocal ability is KILLER! She slays every song she sings, and playing 2 main characters must be a challenge…especially when you have to sing a duet…with yourself. Which, by the way, she slays. That number closes act one, and I can tell why! It’s one of the many “wow!” moments of the show.

Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Natalie Hope & Ché Francis, photo credit Irina Chira

The show is fantastic from top to toe, musically creative and the book is hilarious! Such a perfect show, and definitely my new favourite. I pray to the musical theatre gods that this show gets extended – it’s what the West End has been needing!

5stars

The Toxic Avenger runs until 3rd December.

https://toxicavengermusical.co.uk for tickets

Mad On Her! Is Back In The Heart of London

Feast your eyes upon the glamourous and glitzy cast of “Mad On Her” – 80s Jukebox musical, say Mad On Her fast- you’ll get the gimmick, Mad On Her is back after a successful short tour around the UK’s top Fringe venues including Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, and is ready to take The Heart of London by storm.
Mad On Her will play Sundays in November and December at the Above The Arts Theatre, Leicester Square, from the 5th of November to the 3rd of December, and the line up is through the roof. (5th November is Sold Out!)

Mad On Her Principal Cast includes  Emmerdale’s Sweetheart Kelsey Beth Crossley, X Factor/ Loserville’s Sarah Watson, Jade Johnson (CBBC’s Worlds End), James Colebrook and West End Power-House Laura Wilson, joining them are Jordan Todd (BGT semi-finalist) Dani Acors (Jesus Christ Superstar) Brooke Havana Bailey (Billy Elliot) Simone Kite (Moulin Rouge) Sara Latif (BBC Bollywood), Emily Shuck, Hollie Steel and Phoebe Rose White (Rent).


Mad On Her – 80s Jukebox Musical takes you on a journey through all your favourite smash hits of this ‘Glamtastic’ decade. Get your Gladrags on and Glitter up as Donna and Tina party through the nightlife and drama of 1985.
Donna, ambitious and stylish, is climbing the ladder of success. Finding ‘Mr Right’ is the last thing on her mind – little does she know he could be just around the corner.
Tina, with her big hair and big heart, is the disco diva of the boulevard. As Donna’s best friend she sets out to play cupid. Step into the nostalgia of the neon lights and “Get ready to party the night away.”

Written, Produced and Directed by Ashley Luke Lloyd.
Co-produced by Sam Ohlsson for BlackDeer Productions and Co-Written by Koryann Stevens Delves.

Tickets from £16.

https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/mad-on-her—80s-jukebox-musical/

Review: HAIR @ The Vaults

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

When you enter a theatre to find it completely transformed into a “mini Woodstock”, you’d generally have high hopes for the show. And walking into The Vaults Theatre to see “HAIR”, I had extremely high hopes. And this show exceeded them.


From the moment you enter the auditorium, you are transported back into the 60’s. Paper garlands hang above the audience members heads as the “tribe” sit in a circle, meditating around some incense. The cast are full of energy from the top of the show right to the finale, with a huge finale involving all the audience in a big “dance along”.

Andy Coxon as Berger was perfectly cast – hilarious and quite emotional when needed. Liam Ross-Mills captured my heart as the lighthearted Woof – one member of the tribe.

Laura Johnson as Sheila particularly stood out to me, with amazing vocals that echoed through the house – particularly in her number “Easy To Be Hard”.

Robert Metson as Claude was another amazing casting choice, the transition the character makes throughout the show is lost very easily if done wrong, yet Robert demonstrated excellent ability to make that character his own. The character arc was well thought out and done perfectly.

Jonathan O’Boyle’s simplistic yet effective direction was brilliantly highlited with William Whelton’s highly energetic choreography. This is a truly immersive show, with the audience in a thrust position, so extra attention was taken by O’Boyle and Whelton in each scene and song.

As a whole, the cast were sensational. The powerhouse vocals during the show’s biggest number “Let The Sun Shine In” really brought the audience to their feet – an iconic musical theatre moment done to perfection. This show is perfect. I’ve never seen anything like it before, from the transformation of the theatre to the sensational and diverse cast. This is a show not to be missed.

Let the sun shine in and book tickets to visit the age of Aquarius.

Hair runs until the 21st January 2017. Tickets available from http://www.hair50.com

In Conversation with KATY LIPSON of ARIA ENTERTAINMENT

Interview lead by Nathan Deane

From Page To Stage is a London based musical theatre festival showcasing brand new musicals, featuring staged readings, concerts, snippets of new shows and one fully produced musical by Aria Entertainment. Click here to read more about FPTS on The Thespians Blog, and click here to read about the amazing cast at this years FPTS.

The Thespians Blog were invited along to an event at The Other Palace, marking the opening of the 5th year of FPTS. This included watching some amazing performances from the new Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater musical, Some Lovers (tickets here), which looks absolutely fantastic. We also got to watch a performance by Miiko Toiviainen from the new musical XY (tickets here), which also looks amazing.

Amongst watching the amazing performances, we got to sit down with the woman behind the festival, Katy Lipson. Katy is director of production company Aria Entertainment and has produced many fan favourites, including Lizzie, The Addams Family (UK Tour), and YANK! (Off-West End). 

From Page To Stage 2017 Launch

Steven Sater (book/lyrics – Some Lovers), Chloe Carrington (Dinostory and Chicken Little), Gemma Wardle (Some Lovers), Ben Richards (Some Lovers), Jenna Innes (Some Lovers), Aaron Kavanagh (Some Lovers), Gloria Onitiri (Showcase), Miiko Toiviainen (XY), Katy Lipson (Producer – From Page To Stage).

You’ve worked with Burt Bacharach before, you did Promises, Promises back in February, so what is it like working with Bacharach again but with a completely now show that’s never been produced?

Maybe I’m playing this too casual, but I guess I feel extremely lucky to be presenting in the same year, but a new musical that’s never been put on in this country and never had a production before in the US. He’s one of the most iconic living writers thanks to this 50 year career he’s had. The songs are amazing, they’re really, really beautiful. The sound is as commercial as some of his early hit songs. I’m just really keen to see that we get this show right and move this show on. I’m more focused on nailing it and getting it right, we all want it to be successful and we want people to connect with it. If Burt was coming over I guess I would be nervous about that performance, but he’s not coming over for this first performance but he will come over when we do the show for a full run with a press night. Steven Sater’s wonderful to work with, he’s a great book writer and lyricist, he wrote Spring Awakening which was a game changer for musical theatre and one of the shows that I love, and I feel just so incredibly lucky!

Promises, Promises has some iconic numbers like “Turkey Lurkey Time” which has iconic choreography and everyone knows it, is there going to be anything as iconic in Some Lovers?

I think you’ve got some hit songs in there in a different way. Turkey Lurkey was famous for being quirky but I think there are some hits in here because they’re stunning. We’ve got some hits like Say a Little Prayer and I’ll Never Fall In Love Again and I think the album will become a hit album, rather than a song. It is an album of love songs, and it’s very arty. I assume people will get lost in the music and love it!

 This is your fifth year doing FPTS, how has the festival changed each year?

I’ve become more ambitious and more savvy and my reputation is higher so each year more and more industry come, more  and more venues come, more and more work is submitted of higher standard, I reach out to more and more established writers as well. We wouldn’t have had a Burt Bacharach musical five years ago. I raise more and more money, get more recognition. We moved from The Landor Theatre from the first two years to the Tristan Bates Theatre and now we’re at The Other Palace so I’ve learnt a lot more. I’ve learnt more about who I want to collaborate with and what I want to get out of it. Whereas in years one and two I’m establishing a brand, something that people recognise as an investible festival, whereas now we’re  starting shows out on the right track.

You’re working with Paul Taylor-Mills, another producer, whilst you’re in The Other Palace, so how has that worked out?

So Paul and I didn’t actually work together. It’s just our festival. Andrew Lloyd-Webber invited us to The Other Palace and Paul saw the repertoire we are doing but we’re an outside company that are coming in and rent the theatre, but with Andrew’s support. We all want the same things, new musicals and a safe space for new musicals to flourish and to present them.

You’re a really innovative producer, you’ve got an iconic musical which is touring right now (The Addams Family), and you’ve done Lizzie which isn’t so traditional with a blistering rock score, you’ve done Burt Bacharach, he’s only written two shows and you’ve produced them both, and this year you’re doing Hair. It’s just been leaked that you’re selling tickets to a clothing-optional performance. How did that performance idea come about?

We were approached by a naturist group. They said “oh my god you’re doing Hair and in this intimate theatre, would you consider doing a clothing optional performance?” This group had been trying to get other theatres in Westminster to do it and they all said no but we said ‘why not?’ So we made a private link that you could only buy tickets for if you were sent. Somehow, it leaked out and so we told the press that we were offering this performance. Hair is a show about being liberated, it’s a show about free love, it’s a show about having a free sexuality, free with your identity, free with who you’re marrying, interracial marriage. It’s amazing. If you see Hair, you’re going to love it. So we’re doing it for one performance and if it’s successful,  we’ll do another it’s as simple as that!

Have you had a favourite musical you’ve produced?

I think a new musical I did called Return of the Soldier was very special because it was brand new and I really, really loved it. I’ve loved doing some of the cabarets I’ve done. Also Jerry’s Girls, the Jerry Herman musical. I absolutely adored putting one two of my biggest shows so The Addams Family and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which I did in 2012. And also my latest show, The Toxic Avenger, which is absolutely mental. It’s so fun. Before Toxie (The Toxic Avenger) I didn’t do any comedy in my shows but to hear an audience erupt in laughter is an amazing feeling. My portfolio is so diverse like with YANK! which is an incredible show about the officers in the army falling in love and gay rights to Toxie which is completely un-PC and hilarious, then to The Addams Family which is a caricature of these iconic characters to Burt Bacharach. There’s no point of strategy, you gravitate towards pieces you love and they really take off and you think ‘Oh. Okay. I need to make room in my life now to make the most out of it.

 

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Hair at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

I’d really love to thank Katy Lipson for sitting down and talking with me.

From Page To Stage festival runs until the 3rd of September 2017 at The Other Palace in London. For more information and tickets, click here. 

 

BEATRIX POTTER Musical Adventure Returns to Cumbria This Summer

Smash hit Beatrix Potter Musical Adventure Where is Peter Rabbit? returns for more theatrical magic this summer in Bowness-on-Windermere.

image001Following its world premiere and a hugely successful run at the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere last summer, the highly acclaimed family musical adventure Where Is Peter Rabbit? devised by ROGER GLOSSOP with lyrics by ALAN AYCKBOURN and music by STEVEN EDIS, returns on Saturday 10 June 2017 for 12 weeks.

The innovative show, a visual spectacular for all the family was a sell-out last year and promises even more this summer, with two new songs including an unforgettable ballad from Peter Rabbit himself. The production is a combination of live performance, image007uplifting songs, inventive staging, projection and beautifully created puppets; all designed with exquisite attention to detail, staying faithful to Beatrix Potter’s original stories and illustrations.

The new cast of six actors are: Glenn Adamson, Becky Black, Steven Hardcastle, Suzi Holland, Vivienne Smith and Victoria Sye.  Together they bring to life the much-loved characters of Beatrix Potter’s little books including the ferocious Mr McGregor, the scheming Mr. Tod, the disagreeable Tommy Brock, the headstrong and foolish Jemima and of course the adorable Peter Rabbit.   Accompanying the cast are the famous voices of Miriam Margolyes who reads the stories of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddle-duck, and Trustee of the Old Laundry Theatre, Griff Rhys Jones who lends his voice to the Tale of Jeremy Fisher and of course the naughty Peter Rabbit.  There are also some surprise star appearances from lesser known characters; from Lucie and Ptolemy Tortoise, to the an enormous trout which swallows Jeremy Fisher and Kep the collie dog.  The captivating puppets are all beautifully hand crafted and operated by a shadow cast.

The enchanting music by Steve Edis and Alan Ayckbourn’s witty lyrics form a winning combination in the re-imagining of the five classic tales.  Renowned Theatre Set Designer and Director of the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, Roger Glossop’s revolving stage breathes life in to the magical stories as the 60 minute production tells not just the gentle side of Beatrix Potter’s famous stories but also some of the terrifically dark, dramatic and villainous themes.

Currently shortlisted for Cumbria Tourism Event of the Year, the performance which attracted rave reviews and over 20,000 visitors to the little Theatre in Bowness last summer, is anticipating another successful season with two additional weeks of performances.

Where Is Peter Rabbit?at the Old Laundry Theatre at The World Of Beatrix Potter Attraction in the heart of the Lake District from Saturday 10 June – Sunday 3 September 2017.  Tickets available online www.hop-skip-jump.com and through the Old laundry Theatre Box Office 015394 40872.

Aria Entertainment’s FROM PAGE TO STAGE Festival Listing Announced!

Aria Entertainment’s From Page To Stage (FPTS) are delighted to announce their exciting musical concerts and the eleven new musicals selected to be showcased during their Summer Festival at The Other Palace (Monday 14 August – Sunday 3 September 2017) including: musical royalty with Tony and Grammy Award winning writer Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and Academy Award, Grammy Award winning pop legend Burt Bacharach’s new musical Some Lovers – a fully produced main house production; and titular royalty on stage in the studio, with the coming of age new family musical The Queen’s Nose by Charles Miller and Tim Sanders, adapted from the right royal author Dick King-Smith’s delightfully funny children’s book.

Fast becoming the world’s leading new musical theatre Summer Festival FPTS moves into The Other Palace, where night and day over the three weeks, the sound of music from new musicals from across the globe will be brought to life; both in the theatre and studio – and even the bar. From a record breaking 302 submissions from 15 countries, the selected new musicals will be showcased and performed by top West End performers, directors, choreographers, musicians and musical directors – showing each step of a new musical, with workshops, readings, showcases (25 minute tasters of musicals) and fully staged productions.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, owner The Other Palace says: “I am thrilled that Katy Lipson is bringing From Page to Stage to The Other Palace, in August. It buoys my hope that The Other Palace will become a breeding ground for new musicals and a genuine hub for anyone interested in musical theatre.”

The Festival will open with the slick cutting-edge Song Writers Showcase (14 Aug), giving a professional platform for some awesome new musical songs from a plethora of musical genres, very clearly showing the calibre of shows on tap for three weeks at The Other Palace.

Creating a perfect FPTS mini Family Festival in the studio (28 Aug-02 Sept), The Queen’s Nose will be one of three family shows alongside the infectious tale of Chicken Little by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary; and the first musical where the world of carnivores and herbivores clash in Dinostory by Luke Di Somma, Mark Anderson and Erin Carter.

The Festival includes darker musicals XY (15 – 17 Aug) by Oliver Houser: “whilst studying on my undergraduate psychology course, I learnt about the psychologically harmful, non-consensual corrective surgeries still performed regularly on intersex infants. It’s been percolating in me for 5 years….” – Christopher Dickens and Tom Wright’s Rebel Song (21 – 23 Aug), a topical love story adapted from the award-winning novel At Swim, Two Boys…… – and One Way (24 – 26 Aug), in which an astrophysicist is selected to go on the first one-way trip to Mars by Ben Bonnema and Christopher Staskel.

Other exciting musicals being premiered at FPTS include: The Edinburgh 7 (24 – 26 Aug) by young bloods Christina Tweeddale & Catherine Myers (from the band Honeyblood), the Kielty Brothers and Jordanna O’Neill – their musical of women’s suffrage and their fight to study medicine in 1866…. – The comedy musical by Chris Burgess, The Girls of Downey Hall (24 – 26 Aug) based on Jenny Colgan’s best-selling novel Class …. – Tasha Taylor Johnson (Feed Your Ego) and musical director Phil Cornwell’s Cult! (24 – 26 Aug) a comedy tale of an unlikely group of Doomsday Seekers…. – and One Day (28 – 30 Aug) by Ben Toth, Todd Almond and Anil Baral set in 1972 Northern Ireland: Catholic against Protestant, Irish against British, neighbour against neighbour….

And the headline show: Some Lovers (24 Aug – 02 Sept) – Bacharach’s first new score for the theatre since 1968s Promises Promises. Steven Sater says: “Love songs, that’s what I write. Burt and I had just written our first song together; and some months and any number of songs later I came to recognise how distinct our songs were from those ubiquitous pop anthems of young love. Ours seemed invariably to express a sort of disaffection, a disappointment, a dark joy, or the renewed determination of a more mature, mid-relationship romance. One day, in the heat of July in Los Angeles, as Burt and I laboured away on a Christmas song, I thought: what if we revisited that Depression-Era classic story, The Gift of the Magi? What became of those young Christmas lovers, twenty years after their happily ever after? And that was the beginning of Some Lovers.”

Burth

The first weekend of FPTS sees two special evenings in the Studio, with British composer Charles Miller in You Know How To Love Me (18 – 19 Aug). Joining him will be a host of West End artistes singing from his wonderfully surprising shows including: Brenda Bly: Teen Detective, When Midnight Strikes and The Return Of The Soldier – and Charles will be sharing his favourite behind-the-scenes stories.

And then the Closing Gala (03 Sept) and the icing on the cake of Aria Entertainment’s From Page To Stage Summer Festival is an evening with America’s finest: An Evening Of Songs From Spring Awakening Creators Duncan Sheik And Steven Sater. An extraordinary concert performance of Steven and Duncan’s many musical collaborations including: Spring Awakening, Phantom Moon, Nero, Alice By Heart, Umbrage, The Nightingale and A Home At The End Of The World – and maybe a sneak preview of their latest projects….. a unique ending to the world renowned festival From Page To Stage……

FPTS – From Page to Stage Summer Festival
:

Monday 14 August – Sunday 3 September 2017

The Other Palace – 12 Palace Street, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA.

Ticket prices from £7.50 – £20.

Box Office: theotherpalace.co.uk  // 020 7087 7900

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REVIEW: The Life at Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

This review may be slightly late, the show may have a few weeks left, BUT this is a show not to be missed.

The Life tells the story of the seedy underworld of New York City in the 80’s, most prominently it tells the story of Queen, a prostitute, and her failing relationship with ex-soldier Theodore. The songs are woven together by small sections of dialogue and acting.

The book, by David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman (revisions by Michael Blakemore) doesn’t stand out at all in this piece. It’s a needed piece of the show, and the show couldn’t flow without it but it was just so dull. What does stand out about the piece are the songs. The music and lyrics, by Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman really express the characters in a very tasteful way, yet the music doesn’t take away from the energy of the gogo dancers, strippers and prostitutes.

The most memorable song from the piece was “My Body” which is sung by the prostitutes, Chi Chi, Sonja, Carmen, April, Tracy, and Queen, played by Jalisa Andrews, Sharon D. Clarke, Aisha Jawando, Charlotte Reavey, Lucinda Shaw and T’Shan Williams, respectively, about how their bodies are their own properties and how they choose to use it (in this case, selling it) is not anyone else’s business. I found this number extremely empowering and I’ve not heard prostitutes being talked about in such a positive way in musical theatre. I loved it.

The standout performance for me was T’Shan Williams as Queen. She played the role with such great emotion, and she made the most of what was, essentially, a bland script. Her vocals were seriously on point in all of her songs and I couldn’t fault her performance whatsoever.

The other awesome woman in this performance was Sharon D. Clarke as Sonja, an aging prostitute who realises “the life” isn’t what it used to be. Her vocals were sensational and she really made the part her own throughout the piece. She was comedic when she needed to be as well as serious during the darker moments of the show.

Cornell S. John played Memphis, a ruthless and brutal pimp to the ring of prostitutes. He was horrifying, and sitting front row I could really the tension on stage whenever he walked on. His vocals, again, were really something and he had the right mix of frighening and funny.

The choreography was another extremely strong part of the show. From the very beginning we’re introduced to the bustling streets of New York and the dancing was brilliant. Excellently choreographed by Tom Jackson-Graves, each little part of choreography was insanely detailed, from a shoe shine to a strip club.

Director Michael Blakemore returns to The Life after directing the show on Broadway way back in 1997. The direction was brilliant…from what we could see from it. The direction was really focused towards the front so anyone sat on one of the sides like we were usually gets the back of heads or sides of faces, however we could tell what the performers were doing because of their body language and that was an extremely strong point I felt throughout the whole show. Blakemore has directed them to have such amazing body language so that even when the character isn’t singing, dancing or saying anything you could tell exactly how they were feeling.

Overall, this show was brilliant. A little bit rough on the edges but it is very worthy of a West End transfer and if it doesn’t transfer they’ll be getting some very angry emails from me. Don’t miss this phenomenal show.

Nathan xoxo

The Life runs at Southwark Playhouse until 29th April 2017. 

REVIEW: Lizzie @ Greenwich Theatre

Reviewed by Nathan Deane & Jasmine White

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.

REVIEW: The Girl From Mars – The Britpop Musical

Written by Nathan Deane, Charlie White & Jasmine White

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.

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