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

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

REVIEW: Soho at the Peacock Theatre

Reviewed by Zoe Rogers

On Wednesday May 10th I attended the press night of Soho at the Peacock Theatre in London. Soho is a mix of dance, gymnastics, and circus skills following a character through a day and night in Soho. The show features iconic areas and places such as Soho Square and China Town. The show was open to the general public as well as press and so mostly felt like attending a show as normal, with an added official photographer wandering around and a backdrop for photos to be taken against.

I had no idea what to expect from the show before it started, but as we entered the auditorium the sound of a tube creaking along was played, setting the audience up for the first scene. I thought this was a good introduction to the show, instead of having generic music playing. The first part of the show was set on a tube and as soon as it began I realised this was not your typical show. A hugely diverse cast with people from the UK to Australia graced the stage covered head to toe in colourful and exciting outfits. It was immediate to me that this show would be full of life, talent, and pizzazz.

Each performer had a specialist skill to add to the performance such as handstands, martial arts, and trapeze skills which meant that nothing seemed too similar to another part of the show. A highlight for me was Leah Wolff from Canada who’s talent was the aerial hoop. Whilst she performed in most of the other scenes, the scene in Madame Jojo’s where she was the focus point was absolutely astounding. All throughout the show I was wowed by the ability each performer had not only in their skill but in the other areas they featured in, and the way they brought their talent to the stage and made it theatrical and engaging to watch.

The two acts of the show were broken down into day time and night time, with each act being split further into certain activities for that time of day. During the show I realised that all the performers were taking on different roles within each section other than Alessio Motta who’s character stayed the same throughout as we followed him through 24 hours in Soho. Whilst I enjoyed the narrative and thought it was done in a clever way, it took me a few scenes to realise we were following him instead of each scene being unrelated. Each scene was really different and I found some more interesting than others based on the content of each one and the skills that were used. I really felt engaged in the Soho Streets scene in act 1 with all the different characters and their interactions with each other, however the following scene in the Gym was much less interesting for me as I felt it seemed much more simple and less vibrant than the previous scene.

Each scene was full of music, some specially composed by Peter Coyte for the show, and other music by popular artists. I thought this worked well as it meant every now and then you would recognise the song but it wasn’t so frequent that it was distracting. The coreography along to the music had been carefully planned out and to great success.

Overall, although I found some parts of the show less engaging than others, I thought it was a very clever, talented, and enjoyable show with a round narrative starting and ending on the tube. It was a very welcome change from my typical theatre visits and a great introduction to the world or circus skills and gymnastics on stage.

4stars

 

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.

3 stars.jpg

 

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

REVIEW: Rent The Musical at Festival Theatre, Malvern

 

Rent The Musical is currently doing a special 20th anniversary UK tour and I was able to catch it at my local theatre in Malvern.

For anybody who doesn’t know what Rent is about, it is a fabulous show with music and lyrics by the amazing Jonathan Larson. When I say ‘show’, I do not mean jazz hands and cheesy tap numbers. In a nutshell, Rent covers the story of a group of struggling people who to put it frankly can’t afford to pay rent. But alongside this they suffer the harsh streets of New York being affected by things like AIDS and drugs. So it’s not all ‘song and dance’ (well, you know what I mean), but in the end it’s quite uplifting as you see how the story unfolds and how they all stick together and rely on each other to get by.

The show had an absolutely star studded cast with the likes of Lucie Jones (X Factor, Les Miserables, Legally Blonde), Layton Williams (Bad Education, Billy Elliot, Hairspray) and Philippa Stefani (Most known for playing Daniela in In The Heights) and they all did an unbelievable job!

Lucie Jones was brilliant as Maureen! Her attitude as the character was perfect for the role and she has a power voice! The duet she sings with her on stage partner Joanne ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ wowed the audience and really show cased her talent! She rocked it!

The character of Angel Schunard was portrayed amazingly by Layton Williams. He absolutely slayed the role as Angel. I had only really seen him dance prior to this so I was unsure what to expect from his performance of numbers like ‘Today 4 U’ and ‘Contact’ but I was very impressed! I feel like he embraced the role and gave it his all.

Layton was paired with Ryan O’Gorman playing Angels lover Tom Collins and I was actually pleasantly surprised by this duo. Ryans voice was so smooth and soulful, it really suited the character well.

After only seeing Philippa Stefani play Daniela (‘In The Heights’), watching her as Mimi was a completely different experience I suppose for Philippa and the audience. Her acting was incredible, it appeared she really threw herself in to the role and the emotion was spot on. Sassy and sexy at times, right through to being upset and crying which made my heart go out to her.

After seeing this show you can only be left in awe of what you have just witnessed. I was so happy I finally got to see it live and if you get the chance, I would highly recommend it. For future tour dates and venues please visit the website http://www.rentonstage.co.uk.

 

Charlie xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: School Of Rock at The New London Theatre

This show was one of the rare moments Nathan and Charlie both see the show, so there will be two parts; Nathan’s review and Charlie’s review. Enjoy!

Nathan’s Review

I’ve been following School Of Rock since it had its concert at the Gramercy Theatre in New York. The Broadway cast of children are honestly some of my favourite actors/actresses.

When SoR was announced to come to the UK, I was thrilled. I called Charlie when tickets went on sale and we booked. The seats we got were fab, I don’t even think there are any bad seats in the theatre!
The show itself lacked the WOW factor. David Fynn, who plays Dewey, was amazingly energetic and really channelled Jack Black, who played the character in the original movie. The children, on the other hand, while good actors and musicians, weren’t strong in their singing and some of the American accents were lost. Preeya Kalidas, who played Patti, was struggling with her acting at most times and I felt she wasn’t as powerful as she could’ve been. Rosanna Hyland, who played Rosalie, on the other hand, was a brilliant all-rounder and brought the show to the top of “mount rock”.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of this show, so there isn’t much that I can really write about it.

Charlie’s Review

Perhaps somewhat contrary to Nathan’s review, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree with Nathan that the New London theatre is so well laid out there’s not a bad seat in the house really. It feels quite open and I think it suited the show quite well. I thought the atmosphere was incredible, at times you felt like you were actually at a rock concert!

I was extremely excited to see this show as the film is one of my absolute favourites- I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it. I think the storyline, the passion for music and the comedy is just great!

Admittedly I was a bit doubtful as to whether anyone could even come close to Jack Black in the role of Dewey, but I have to say, David Fynn gave him a run for his money. He had so much energy on stage, his voice was fab, and the comedic timing was brilliant.  I loved how the show used current affairs in the comedy (for example a certain Mr Donald Trump) Also, he seemed to play off the kids really well.

The musical talent of the young actors and actresses in the show was outstanding! The band stood and watched with the audience as the kids were ‘rocking out’ live on stage.

Overall I thought the atmosphere was amazing, as  if you were at a proper rock concert! It’s definitely one to visit again at some point!

 

Charlie & Nathan

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Side Show at Southwark Playhouse

This show was one of the rare moments Nathan and Charlie both see the show, so there will be two parts; Nathan’s review and Charlie’s review. Enjoy!

Nathan’s Review

Side Show is one of my favourite cast recordings to listen to (2014 New Broadway Cast), so when I knew the show would be coming to London’s infamous Southwark Playhouse, I had to see the show! I knew me and Charlie were seeing School Of Rock on the evening of the 29th October, so why not see a cheeky matinee?

When the casting was initially announced in September, I was more than excited. Laura Pitt-Pulford and Louise Dearman playing conjoined twins? Hell yeah! Okay so now onto my review of the show itself. The stage was set perfectly. The set was loosely (I’m gathering) based on the 2014 Broadway revival, and looked absolutely stunning. The intimacy of the Southwark Playhouse really worked as a carnival attraction. As we entered the auditorium from the bar/foyer, a toy organ version of “Like Everyone Else” was playing quietly. The usher, as we approached the entrance, said “Freak show!” as if he was trying to get customers into his own freak show. Well played, usher. The seating was set up in usual Southwark Playhouse fashion of a thrust stage (this can be altered for different productions), and posters hung along the walls advertising the freak show acts, e.g. the Bearded Lady and the Siamese twins. The lights went down. From the first few words ‘Come look at the freaks!’ I could tell the small (and I mean small) ensemble were strong.

Daisy and Violet, two conjoined twins, played by Louise and Laura as I mentioned earlier, entered the stage holding each other, and looked up at the “balcony” of the set, where Sir, played wonderfully by Chris Howell took his place. They exited the stage and the freak show began. Sir was a beautifully sinister ringmaster, and introduced the freaks wonderfully. The freaks got very…very close to the audience. The Lizard Man (Nuno Quiemado) almost touched me and Charlie. Wow. The costumes were awesomely done, though the Three Legged Man (Nuwan Hugh Penera) awkwardly had more of a tail with a shoe than a leg, but other than that the freaks were beautifully done. The staging pretty much relied on wooden crates which could be opened and held props. The freaks, who were on stage throughout the performance as ensemble, would place these as the scenes unfolded. Instead of using a rotator, the freaks would turn [a cast member] on a longer wooden crate with wheels. It worked really well.

The vocals of Laura Pitt-Pulford and Louise Dearman really blended and worked well together, especially in the heartbreaking “Who Will Love Me As I Am?”. They both really seemed to have the Siamese Twin-thing down. They walked together, danced together, and barely separated (apart from once, during Private Conversation [on purpose]). Director Hannah Chissick really did well on staging the two girls. The girls were seriously amazing. The libretto of Side Show calls for a few more freaks than we had (The Geek, The World’s Tiniest Cossacks, The Living Venus De Milo). The Geek was played by David Muscat, who also played the Human Pin Cushion. This worked, but only slightly. The Venus De Milo wasn’t staged by anyone, and the Cossacks were done cleverly, with some freaks placing shoes on their hands and another freak putting their arms through. It worked.

My absolutely favourite moment of the show, however, was I Will Never Leave You. It’s essentially a theatre kid’s best friend anthem! Not only did the two girls sing it absolutely amazing, the staging was so much better than the 2014 Broadway version. The girls held each other tightly as they belted their hearts out!
What more could you want?

I’ve never been more eager to book tickets to see a show again. It was absolutely stunning.

Charlie’s Review

Well what can I say that Nathan hasn’t covered? In case you haven’t noticed, he’s just slightly in love with Side Show, and now after Saturday there can be another person added to the list of Side Show fans…Me!

I didn’t really know a lot about the show until Nathan managed to tell me (in between screaming with excitement) that it was coming to the Southwark Playhouse in London, and right then we knew we had to fit it in to our next London trip!

For those of you who don’t know the plot, well I shan’t spoil it too much, but just to give you a little hint. It is based on the true story of the Hilton sisters Daisy (Louise Dearman) and Violet (Laura Pitt-Pulford) who were (if you hadn’t guessed already) conjoined twins who lived there lives ‘on display’ for all to gaze upon the ‘freaks’ that happened to also be amazing singers. They ended up as the ‘main attraction’ in a Side Show ran by their legal guardian Sir. That is until they were spotted by two talent agents (Buddy Foster and Terry Connor, played by Dominic Hodson and Chris Howell) who threw them in to fame in 1920’s Chicago. The story then unfolds from there as we follow the lives and relationships of the twins.

This was my first visit to the Southwark Playhouse and it was a lot smaller and intimate than what I imagined, which actually made me more excited to see the leading roles. I’d heard great things about them both so was very looking forward to finally seeing them live, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Their voices were absolutely incredible and were just breath-taking together, they had me reduced to tears during ‘I Will Never Leave You’-an absolute belter of a song! On top of this, the acting was brilliant too! Your heart went out to the twins and they really conveyed the emotions well.

The whole ensemble of freaks portrayed their characters fantastically and were an integral part of the show covering most of the set changes and doubling as other characters. It was a pleasure to see David Muscat on stage again as the Human Pin Cushion after not seeing him since he left the role of Mr Braithwaite in Billy Elliot last year.

Overall we both thoroughly enjoyed the show! The heart warming soundtrack, the incredible acting and the touching story of the bond between two very special sisters.

Nathan and Charlie xoxo

Side Show runs at the Southwark Playhouse until the 3rd of December.