Review: Pop Punk High @ (Le) Poisson Rouge

Reviewed by Annie Zeleznikow

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

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

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

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

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

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

3-stars

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

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Review: Six @ The Arts Theatre, London

Reviewed by Charlotte White

When I was younger, my little self was absolutely obsessed with the Tudors, to the point where I would practically force people to quiz me on them. Now, the incredibly talented Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss have written something that combines my two loves of Musical theatre and the Tudors in the form of Six the Musical! Telling the tale of Henry VIIIs six wives like you’ve never heard it before. If you think you know all there is to know about these amazing women who happened to catch the eye of one particular man, these girls are about to give you a lesson in ‘herstory’.

After a sold out run at the arts theatre earlier this year and taking the Edinburgh fringe by storm this year, Six is back on tour and we managed to catch it on it’s return to the Arts theatre in London. Directed by Jamie Armitage and Lucy Moss, Six is a 75 minute one act pop tudor extravaganza. The premise of the show being the wives are in competition with each other to see who had it worse from their large short tempered husband King Henry. So we here from them all as they tell their own versions of what happened all those years ago, in the stylings of pop icons such as Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna and more! There’s something to suit every taste.

To start with we have Jarneia Richard-Noel as the first wife, Catherine of Aragon as she impresses the audience with her sassy number and riffs to ‘ruffle your ruffs’.

Millie O’Connell puts her own stamp on Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn with hilarious one liners (mainly attempting to remind us about the unfortunate loss of her head) and a quirky rock song that is definitely one to make you want to get up and rock along with her.

The third wife, his supposed true love, Jane Seymour is played by Natalie Paris who tugs on your heart strings with an emotional ballad and breath taking vocals.

 

Alexia McIntosh causes a sensation as Anna of Cleves performing a sexy Nicky Minaj style number encouraging the audience to ‘get down’ with the German princess and party Tudor style.

The second of the three Catherines and fifth wife overall is the young, promiscuous Catherine Howard and Aimie Atkinson kicks it up a notch with a killer, upbeat, pop song. Aimie gives an amazing performance and delivers 100% full out on emotion and vocally.

With five down, we come to the final wife, Catherine Parr. Maiya Quansah-Breed is stunning on stage and reminds us there’s is so much more to the story then some people may realise.

The show is so cleverly thought out by co-creators Marlow and Moss and the lighting and choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and Tim Deiling really help to bring the show together. All of the songs are so catchy and well written you’re bound to want to have the soundtrack on repeat 24/7 after watching. The whole piece is performed with such energy from start to finish and the cast work so well on stage, hitting every move and note to get those beautiful harmonies.

There is No way you’re not going to lose your head over Six. Some might say you would have a heart of stone if you didn’t at least enjoy it a little. So come on and get down like it’s 1499 because after all it’s all you’re gonna want to do after seeing this show, and it definitely is deserving of your love.

5stars

Six runs at the Arts Theatre until the 14th October after which it will tour to Kingston, Southampton, Salford and Glasgow.  For tickets and more information please visit the Six website 

Review: Gypsy @ Theatre Royal, Winchester

Reviewed by Charlotte White

I was pleasantly surprised by RicNic Hampshire’s production of Gypsy. The entire production was put on by 16-21 year olds and I have to say the standard was actually very high! Knowing the general premise of the show, I was intrigued to see how it would be played and they delivered with talent and just a dash of star quality.

Directed by Emily Pacey, Gypsy transports us to 1920s Vaudeville and is the story of Rose who is determined to make her daughters stars! Trying to live vicariously through her children, Rose risks everything to ensure their fame, however it doesn’t quite go to plan.

A few understudies were on, so the leading role of ultimate stage mum Rose was played by Ali Shepherd. It’s quite a mature character to play, but she certainly pulled it off in my books. She performed it with such passion and vocally her numbers were fantastic. I was very captivated by her performance and the emotion she put across.

Jack Shannon who played talent agent Herbie seemed to connect to his character well and to the others on stage. It was a very natural performance and the ease with which he acted from start to finish.

Poppy Hill certainly oozed a certain amount of star quality as both Baby June and Dainty June with her charming smile, impressive voice and high kicks. The part seemed to suit her well and her performance was very enjoyable. The term ‘triple threat’ comes to mind when thinking about her portrayal as she showcased all aspects of her talent.

The role of Louise was taken by Charlotte Teschner and she absolutely shone for the entirety of the performance. The character progressed and developed a lot as the show went on, and she portrayed each change very well. It was almost like seeing a completely new person form. There was a very engaging quality about her and she commanded the stage like a professional.

 

 

One of the comedic highlights of the second act has to be Nathan Deane as stage manager Pastey. Every line was delivered with purpose, the characterisation was spot on and the comedy timing was just right. He seemed to completely transform in to that character and his energy stood out to me multiple times throughout the show. Clara Wessley also got a lot of laughs as Miss Cratchitt, again nailing the comedy aspect and was a very amusing character. Great job by Miss Wessley.

The three burlesque dancers Tessie Tura, Mazeppa and Electra played by Bethany Williams, Becki Holder and Beth-Anne Hollyhurst respectively  added yet more hilarity to the show. They definitely looked liked they had fun with the roles and their number was very enjoyable, their voices went really nicely together.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of professionalism and energy shown by the whole cast. The costumes and staging of the production was also very impressive. It definitely helped capture the time period. Filled with musical classics and a winning storyline with such a variety of emotions, it was a thoroughly enjoyable show. I would definitely recommend RicNic productions for the future, great showcase of young talent.

 

4stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Review: Laura Bush Killed a Guy @ The Flea Theatre

reviewed by Annie Zeleznikow

I was welcomed into the theatre with an offer of a pen and a cowboy cookie. Delighted, I took my seat and was surprised to find two things. One, this was a one-woman show with no intermission and Two, my uncultured assumption that Laura was one of the Bush twins was wrong. I was surprised to find a well-groomed older woman, George W. Bush’s wife Laura.

Munching on my cookie, Laura (or First Lady Bush, or Mrs. Bush now I guess) began sharing her renowned Cowboy Cookie recipe in detail. This long monologue bookended the show, Laura used her recipe as a method of connection with America, and on a smaller scale with our audience. The mirroring of her words continues throughout the show if I paid close attention I could see the dual image Lisa Hodsoll was creating in her portrayal of the First Lady.

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Hodsoll’s engaging and thrilling storytelling captured the small audience. Ian Allan used carefully crafted words to paint a specific image of Laura Bush. Laura’s story was told as though to a friend, with whom she was happy to lie to. Halfway through the show, Laura retold an earlier story, with different motives around the accident. My personal feelings of betrayal shocked me. Hodsoll had made me her friend, only to tell me she had been lying the whole time. This dualism of Laura added both suspense and intrigue to the show. Hodsoll had my full attention.

Laura tells two stories about an orphanage. She went once with her parents, and she went once with George. This reflection of events provokes powerful emotions and was successful in engaging me in meaningful thought about the Bush family, something I had thought impossible. Laura speaks about visiting countries in the Middle East, and how the weight of a Burka surprised her. Hearing stories of Laura trying new things and opening up her world to new experiences impressed me. In light of modern politics, this show cleverly introduced a more sympathetic woman than I would have suspected.

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Laura tells two stories about how she met George. At this point, I’m not sure what to believe. I’m not sure if it matters which story is true or accurate. The emotions a felt in response to each story was real for me. Although jarring, I found this show thought-provoking and engaging. The atmosphere was electric and like a true politician, Hodsoll had me eating out of the palm of her hand.

3-stars

Review: Heathers @ The Other Palace

Reviewed by Charlotte White

When I managed to get a must have ticket to Heathers I was extremely happy. Of course I had heard of this show but I didn’t know much about it at all, so I went in to it with a very open mind.

For anyone who is also unfamiliar with the plot of Heathers, it’s the story of Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, Heather Duke and Veronica Sawyer. As a student of Westerburg high life is difficult for Veronica, but not for the Heathers. So Veronica decides to make a deal with the Heathers to become popular. This new friendship seems to be going well, that is until new kid on the block Jason ‘JD’ Dean gets involved and things start to unravel from there.

Directed by Andy Fickman, the hugely talented cast put on quite the show. Starting with the leading role of Veronica, Carrie Hope Fletcher gave a gripping performance. After seeing her in Les Miserables as Eponine, this character was quite different and allowed the audience to see a different side to her. Carrie’s voice was certainly strong enough for the role and her portrayal of the character was everything you’d want as a ‘newbie’ watching the show- enticing, emotional and humorous. I enjoyed the comedic side to her performance and it seems the rest of the audience did too. I felt a sense of pride as I watched her and that she too felt proud of the role, exuding body confidence and empowerment to all us young women out there.

The three iconic Heathers played by Jodie Steele (Heather Chandler), Sophie Isaacs (Heather McNamara) and T’shan Williams (Heather Duke) did not disappoint. Their vocals worked extremely well together and all three seemed to have a good connection on stage. I feel Jodie really came into her own in this role and the two solos by T’Shan and Sophie were both performed brilliantly. They all nailed the comedy but also the emotion of the piece as well.

I was utterly captivated by Jamie Muscato as Jason Dean. He gave such a compelling performance throughout the entirety of the show, but I loved how the character developed as it went on. He was convincing the whole way through and I thoroughly enjoyed his interpretation of the role.

Jenny O’Leary gave such a touching performance as Veronica’s best friend Martha Dunnstock and Rebecca Lock was fabulous as Ms Flemming! Dominic Andersen and Chris Chung played the rather comedic duo of Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelly. They gave the show a lighter feel and had me laughing the whole way through.

As I was new to the show (unlike the several ‘Heather Chandlers’ in the audience who were clearly familiar with it), I had nothing to compare it to. Perhaps some hardcore fans may not agree with all the decisions made but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is quite a hype surrounding the show so I think it is good to come in with an open mind as there is a new song and new staging. Also, there are some very adult/dark themes explored during the show so it may not be for everyone. Having said this, I think it is done in a tasteful and fairly lighthearted way.

Did I hear the people sing? The Other Palace is quite a small venue which helped, but the cast were excellent in their diction and clarity both during their songs and dialogue. The volume was a comfortable level and I had no trouble at all hearing what was going on.

In summary, Heathers is a sexy, twisted, seductive tale that will give you a rush which is likely to ‘Freeze Your Brain’. Combine this with a soundtrack you’re bound to be singing for days on end after you leave, it’s a winner in my opinion. Even if you’re a bit unsure, try and grab a ticket if one comes up. I myself was quite surprised I liked it so much, I guess you could colour me stoked.

5stars

REVIEW: Island Song @ Davenport Theatre Loft

reviewed by Annie Zeleznikow

All Things Broadway, a much beloved Facebook group, presented their first full-length show. The theatre was filled with family, friends and supportive theatre lovers. One of the producers, Eliyahu Kheel, addressed the audience, explaining in a short and heartwarming way the long road that lead to this production.

Island Song presents the overlapping lives of serval busy New Yorkers. The story follows 5 core characters, with actors doubling up to play minor characters. The show offered many opportunities to show off the actors’ vocal range, to my delight. The songs that bookend the show rang out through the theatre with the strong harmonies of a powerful cast.

The staging was interesting and the director, Keira Todd, impressively utilized the space and light of the Loft. The lighting stood out, as the twinkle lights around the room pulsed in time with the emotions and climax of each song. The small theatre space created an intimate atmosphere, and the show felt tailored uniquely for me. Focusing on romance and making it in the big city, the themes of the show resonated with me.

Each of the 5 characters struggled with living in the city and found strength in different ways. The pop songs illustrated the nuanced issues the characters were facing. Will (Mathew Billman) charismatically courted his girl-next-door, Jordan (Stephanie Michele Toups), and Shoshana (Kira Leiva) was just looking for love in all the wrong places. Caroline (Anna Harris) struggled with a purpose. The standout, however, was Cooper (Darren Cementina) who, through his story as a struggling artist, managed to give me goosebumps with his superb vocals.

Although there was a dense amount of songs, and there were some technical issues with the microphones, this show was undoubtedly heartwarming. The community produced show is representative of the great artistic creativity that can be produced with the faith and support of loved ones. Empowering and touching, this production showed me how much heart can be woven into a single show.

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REVIEW: Great Expectations @ Winchester Festival Theatre

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

A classic Dickens story I am ashamed to have not yet read, Great Expectations tells the story of Pip, a poor young boy who meets an escaped convict and has his life changed, meeting the extravagant Miss Havisham, falling in love with her adopted daughter Estelle, and falling into the lap of luxury when a mysterious benefactor pays for him to live a life of luxury in London.

The novel has been retold in many forms, most recently on screen starring Helena Bonham Carter and on TV in a 3-part mini-series commissioned by the BBC. I’ve never seen any adaptations so going into the Festival Theatre in Winchester, I was completely blind to the story, having only seen the haunting artwork on the posters around the city.

The play was written by Ken Bently, a writer most known for his audio plays. This play was written in a true Dickensian manner that some of the language went straight over the top of my head, nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and drama of the piece.

The direction, by Sophie Boyce Couzens, was original and intimate, making use of the beautiful rustic set by James Turner. The play was scored throughout with accordion and violin music composed by Ollie King, who, as well as playing the instruments, doubles up as a member of the ensemble.

Séan Aydon plays the story’s central character, Pip. Aydon played the role at a variety of ages, from a young child to a well-off adult gentleman. Aydon brought such energy to the role as well as raw emotion and the performance felt genuine and fresh.

Early on in the story, Pip is invited to the home of the elderly and reclusive Miss Havisham, played by the wonderful Nichola McAuliffe. McAuliffe commands the stage as Miss Havisham, the bride-to-be who was abandoned by her fiance on her wedding day. Her performance was haunting and captivating, and at certain points, throughout the second act, I felt my eyes well up at her portrayal of the iconic character.

The ensemble of 7 play a variety of characters and narrators and work as a team to make sure the piece runs smoothly, often playing musical instruments on stage for sound effects. They also sang quite a bit (well, more than I expected) which was a touch I thought was brilliant.

This was a beautifully staged piece of theatre that tells a chilling story and would do Charles Dickens himself proud.

4stars

Great Expectations is touring the UK until June. Tickets and more information can be found here.

REVIEW: Ms. Estrada @ The Flea Theatre

Reviewed by Annie Zeleznikow

The Flea Theatre that houses this production can be found off the beaten path in Tribeca, in a twist of oxymoronic fate this company is creating edgy and thought-provoking shows in the heart of the industrial upper class. This funky company introduced themselves by providing single pieces of paper, rather than a playbill. It was announced before the show began that this was a deliberate decision and that all other information can be found online. Their dedication to conservation is an interesting and thoughtful act towards global sustainability.

The show began with a disclaimer from the writers,The Q Brothers Collective. They astutely noted that they were all male, some gay, some of colour. The sensitive themes explored in Ms Estrada warranted the warning. The cleverly written prose professed profanity, and ultimately set the scene for a production that challenges and entertains.

Another visual that struck me before the show began was the DJ, Marguerite Frarey. Rather than having an orchestra, Ms Estrada had a band of one. Frarey would often shout and boo as the story developed. She was the first character you meet, and she remains a constant throughout. Frarey at times could be compared to an all mighty presence, watching the events of the show unfurl.

Ms Estrada focuses on a young woman’s experience through college. Written with dark humour and a clever sense of self-awareness, Liz Estrada (Malena Pennycook), a new college student, seeks the “power to change the system”. In an attempt to prevent the “Greek Games”, a sexist male competition focused on stereotypical frat games, Estrada convinces her fellow female classmates to withhold sex. With the support of her roommates and mentor (Jenna Krasowski), Estrada shows the Dean (Ben Schrager) how damaging the Greek Games are.

The songs in Ms Estrada are clever and catchy. With a flair for rap, the show slowly moves towards more traditionally female musical genres as the story progresses. “Ring the Bell” is a catchy earworm, as Estrada and the female rebels reprise the song whenever they are confronted. Estrada and her empowered peers rename themselves “Womxn with an X”, and flaunt their feminine power with some complex and intricate choreography. The boys begin losing matches and they complain to the Dean with a song that appears to find inspiration from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Macklemore. The show continues with a compelling blend of rap and pop.

Estrada’s compelling fight against an unrelenting torrent of sexism is remanent of Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars. Young women are fighting for equality, and the stories focus on the struggle and success of these women. The storytelling and incorporation of Ms Estrada exudes a quirkiness similar to that of the charming Veronica Mars.

This masterful adaptation of the Greek Classic Lysistrata brings modern life to an ancient play. The in-house ensemble of The Flea Theater, The Bats, shine in this complex and captivating show.

4stars

Ms Estrada is playing at The Flea Theater until 28th April. You can buy tickets here

 

Going to the same show…again?

Written by Charlie White

Most of you reading this are presumably theatre fans, but how many of you go to see a show more than once?

I know there can be very different views on this subject, especially between theatre fans and non-theatre fans as not everyone understands why some of us theatre folk would want to go and see something like Wicked for example over 100 times.

So…why do we go and see the same show over and over again?

I think personally when you watch something that is so inspiring and makes you feel all happy inside, the obvious reaction for me is to want to experience it a second time (and maybe a third…and a fourth). When you love something so much and you have the opportunity to go then you think why not? We can all be fans of theatre in general but I’m sure most of us have that one show that is particularly special to us.

A large portion of the argument against this is of course…the money. When you add up all the times you’ve spent £30 here and there it can admittedly add up to quite a lot. Having said that,  from what I’ve experienced, most people outside the ‘theatre world’ assume most West End shows amount to something close to £100, or at least more than perhaps what we know we can get if you know the right places to look (and/or are willing to queue outside the theatre at 7am for day seats). I VERY rarely pay over £30 when I go to the theatre and this is mainly due to things like day seats, a policy which most theatres have now (TheatreMonkey is a great website to check these out if you’re wondering). Even big shows like Wicked and Kinky boots have front row seats allocated for under £30!

In addition to this, if you’re of the younger age group (like myself) aged between 16 and 25, you can tickets to Matilda for £5! So if you’re looking for something to do on a weekend, a west end show for a fiver is worth considering.

If we do go to the theatre often, we do tend to look for these sort of prices or cheaper seats as we’re perhaps not so bothered about having premium seats. Whereas someone who doesn’t go a lot might want to make the most of it and pay more for a top band seat, which is understandable.

Some people might call it obsessive, but so what!? Theatre is a hobby and yes even I have to admit perhaps we can get a bit carried away sometimes (I know I did), but it’s only because we’re so passionate about it. Theatre is a place where we can escape the world for 2 to 3 hours and not have to think about the stresses of day to day life.

When you’re a fan of something, you tend to notice the little things. If you’re sat on the front row you can see all the actors faces and expressions, and that’s what makes it different each time. You become really familiar with a show and you can pick up on any small differences. Different casts and actors can also add a new flavour to the show.

To summarise, if you can afford it…GO FOR IT! Seize the opportunity and go to the theatre whilst you can, and if you’re a fan of a certain show, go see that show! Happy theatre going everyone!

For more information on days eats and details of all the policies click here.