Why is The Greatest Showman such a hit? 

Written by Charlotte White

Arguably one of the most raved about cinematic experiences of this year (yes I know we’re only in the first month), The Greatest Showman is all people can talk about on social media. So I thought we’d join the bandwagon  and discuss what makes The Greatest Showman so great.

To start with, let’s talk about Hugh Jackman who plays the ‘circus king’ himself P T Barnum. Personally I don’t think anyone else could have portrayed this role quite like him. He truly is a born performer and this comes through during the entirety of the film. He ‘Come[s] Alive’ in every number and exudes showmanship and pizzazz in the classiest way possible.

He’s back! Zac Efron makes his return to Musicals in a big way! With numbers like ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Rewrite the stars’ he reminds us why the world fell in love with him as Troy Bolton all those years ago. However, he shows us even more aspects of his talent as high class socialite Phillip Carlyle with technical choreography and his great partnership with the fabulous Anne Wheeler played beautifully by Zendaya.

Of course the film wouldn’t be the same without the incredible Soundtrack from Pasek and Paul. Each song is beautifully written and relates to the story perfectly. You can’t listen to these songs and not feel something whether makes you want to smile from ear to ear or burst in to tears.

With anthems like ‘This is Me’ (performed by the incredible Keala Settle), it puts across such a positive message saying it’s ok to be different. It inspires us to be more accepting of who we are and I think so many people can relate to that.

Throughout the film you can see there’s a good bond between the cast and this is shown by how well the cast work together. We can see them enjoying themselves and that makes us enjoy watching.

With a combination of all these things, The Greatest Showman has won over the world and gained a special place in our hearts. If you haven’t seen it yet, believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

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Sophie’s Top 5 Favourite Shows of 2017

By Sophie Reed

 

5) Legally Blonde

UK Tour

Legally Blonde Lucie Jones (Elle Woods) left, Bruisey (Bruiser Woods), Rita Simons (Paulette Bonafonte) Photo Robert Workman_preview.jpeg

I went to see this with my best friend, Beth, for her birthday because it is her favourite musical. The musical follows a blonde named Elle Woods, who just got dumped by her ‘perfect’ boyfriend Warner. To win him back she follows him to Harvard Law school and ends up learning, not just a lot of law, but a lot about herself.

I was nervous seeing the UK tour because I am a big lover of Laura Bell Bundy’s version of Elle, but Lucie Jones made the role her own. Her performance acting wise and vocally was outstanding, maybe even surpassing Laura Bell Bundy. They accommodated well the set, baring in mind they are a touring production. I loved it.

4) Dreamgirls

Savoy Theatre

imageThis show is all singing, all dancing, glittering spectacular! Dreamgirls tells the story of 3 girls trying to break it into show business. I was lucky enough to see Amber Riley, who won an Olivier for her role as Effie White, and I’ve never felt more privileged to see a performance in my life. Her ‘And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going’ left me feeling breathless, a reaction that I have never had to a performance before and then the talented ensemble’s constant energy has made it my number 4.

3) Venus in Fur

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

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The only play I saw this year. This 2-hander play tells the story of a Director, Thomas, played by Victoria’s David Oakes, auditioning women for his play, an adaptation of Venus in Fur. Vanda, played by Game of Throne’s Natalie Dormer believes she’s the one for the role. They perform parts of the play, so it becomes a play within and play and the actors play characters within characters.

This play is so enticing, it plays with the concept of domination and submission and questioning who is the one in control. It may be a difficult play to describe, however, the play itself is simple and easy to follow for the audience. I’m also a big fan of both Dormer and Oakes and it was refreshing to see them in something different to what they usually do. Also, there’s nothing like seeing actors live and it really showed the insane talent they both possess.

Read my full review of the show here!

2) The Woman in White

Charing Cross Theatre

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I was lucky enough to see The Woman in White on its 2nd Preview. The musical is adapted from the novel of the same name. A painter, while travelling to a stately home to tutor two well brought up ladies, is confronted by a woman in white warning him of a man named Percival Graves. After he arrives at the home, he falls in loves with the youngest go the two sisters, later to find out she’s is promised to marry Percival Graves.

The small theatre was fitting to this musical. Its not a big song and dance musical, not showy. It’s simple and intimate with beautiful melodies and songs. It has to be my number two because of the intimacy of it, it struck a chord with me. Though I have never been in a situation like the ones that are shown in the musical, it was personal to me.

1) Half a Sixpence

Noel Coward Theatre

wp-image1560871222.jpgThis has got to be my top show! Half a Sixpence tells the story of young man names Arthur Kipps, who has just come into some money, being stuck between choosing his childhood sweetheart and a new, richer sweetheart. With a crazily talented cast, special shout out to leading man Charlie Stemp, who’s heading to Broadway’s Hello Dolly in the New Year, a brilliant, catchy score and choreography that makes the audience feel tired. This show is one of, if not, the most uplifting, visually beautiful musicals that was on the West End this year.

REVIEW: The Band @ Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

Probably the most anticipated theatrical event of 2017, The Band is a new musical written by Tim Firth and with music by Take That. The Band is touring in the UK, opening in Manchester and making its way across the country.

The show tells the story of 1 group of girls 25 years apart, and their devotion to The Band.

So far, reviews from fans and critics alike praised the show for being “hilarious” and also “heartbreaking”. And whilst at times it had moments of hilarity, the book wasn’t the highlight of the show for me. The sadness definitely came through in a few moments, and at some points I did well up, but the book is often joyous and a celebration of life.

The titular Band are made up of five heartthrobs, AJ, Curtis, Sario, Nick and Yazdan. The boys provided immaculate harmonies throughout the show, and there is never a dull moment when they’re performing. They all work together as a veichle, although my eyes were often drawn to Sario Solomon. His vocal ability is angelic and his dancing was spectacular.

Nick Carsberg, despite being the youngest of the group, showed real talent vocally and dance-wise. AJ Bentley was fantastic to watch, his voice is stellar and he can move like no other! Yazdan Qafouri performed brilliantly, his acting skills really shone through even when performing as a part of the boy band. There were a few moments when he made me chuckle. Curtis T. Johns also showed excellent performance skills throughout, never failing to make me or the audience smile.

Another standout performance was Alison Fitzjohn as Claire. Her acting was phenomenal and her act two monologue really got me emotional.

Rachelle Diedricks plays Debbie. Whilst Debbie is a smaller role than the other characters, Rachelle owns the role and rocks every musical number she’s in.

Whilst the plot isn’t the most thrilling, the cast really work their bums off and deserve every standing ovation they get. Take That’s music is iconic, and they do more than justice to it. They slay every note they sing. The cast really appeared to be enjoying themselves – and that really made me happy.  The show is feel-good and a perfect night out.

The Top 5 Halloween-esque Musicals!

Written by Nathan Deane

Darkness falls across the land, and the midnight hour is close at hand. Yes, that time of year is here again. And as Halloween approaches, the hunt for blood-filled musical starts again. Finding musicals that will scare the living daylights out of you yet keep your feet tapping along is hard, but fear not! Here are my top 5 musicals that are perfect Halloween! And don’t worry, at the bottom of the article there are links to buy the cast recordings for each show.

5) The Toxic Avenger

Meet Melvin Ferd The Third – an aspiring scientist, who wants nothing more than to save his town of Tromaville from being killed by the rapidly expanding amounts of toxic waste. When Melvin gets thrown into a vat of toxic goo, he emerges as The Toxic Avenger – a mutant with superhuman strength. This musical is brilliantly funny and catchy. And it’s also currently playing in the West End! Click here to read our five-star review of The Toxic Avenger. 

 

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The Toxic Avenger

 

4) American Psycho

Patrick Bateman is a successful Wall Street banker with a secret – he’s also a serial killer. Based on a book by Brett Easton Ellis and a 2000 film starring Christian Bale, this musical had a brief run in London at the Almeida Theatre before making the leap to Broadway in 2016 where, unfortunately, it flopped. However, the show is full of catchy songs and iconic lines from both the movie and the book. Also, it has starred Matt Smith. If that interests you…at all.

American Psycho

American Psycho

3) Lizzie

As the rhyme goes, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks.” And that’s what this musical is about. This musical is a guitar-shredding, face-melting rock-fest based on the true story of the Borden murders. Basically, one autumn day in 1892, Abby Durfee-Borden and her husband Andrew Borden were found dead in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Andrew’s youngest daughter, Lizzie Borden, was trialled for the crimes and eventually acquitted. The case remains unsolved to this day. The show is limited to a cast of four women, and they kill every number their in! A particular highlight of the show is the act one finale, in which Lizzie murders her parents, displayed with watermelons. Click here to read our five-star review of Lizzie!

 

 

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Lizzie

 

2) Carrie

Carrie is an infamous musical. It opened in Stratford in the late 80’s, to mixed reviews, starring Barbara Cook, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Linzi Hateley. The show went through major script and technical re-writes, especially after Barbara was almost decapitated by a set piece. It opened on Broadway in the same year and received horrendous reviews. The show closed after 3 performances and 16 previews. It was classed as the biggest Broadway flop of all time. The show had a revival Off-Broadway in 2012, with MASSIVE revisions made. The show was far better received, and the show has enjoyed successful runs in London and LA since. The musical tells the story of Carrie White – a shy girl, bullied for her religious upbringing by her abusive mother. Carrie is also gifted with telekinesis – the ability to move things with the mind. When a group of bullies dump a bucket of blood on her at prom, all hell breaks loose. It’s based on a Stephen King novel and movie, so you know it’s gonna be horrifying.

 

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Carrie

 

1) Evil Dead

“Ah yes, Evil Dead. The movie about a group of teenagers who go to an abandoned cabin in the woods and resurrect a pact of ancient demons that have possessed the entirety of the cabin, including the woods surrounding said cabin and kill the teenagers one by one? Sounds like perfect material for a musical!” said no-one ever. Yet a team of creatives from Canada set out to turn the trilogy of movies into “the next Rocky Horror” – complete with singing and dancing demons! It’s a hilarious musical, including a musical number complete with instructions on how to dance along! Move over, Time Warp. The show has enjoyed success all around the USA and Canada, and I think it may be the time the UK enjoyed some of that success.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead

Buy The Cast Recordings Here:

Click on the title of a show to see the cast recording.

The Toxic Avenger 

American Psycho

Lizzie

Carrie

Evil Dead

REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors @ Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favourite musicals. I’ve seen a few different productions of the show and, if done well, the show can really be amazing. Right off the bat, however, this production was plagued with technical issues. These issues cannot be overlooked, however, when the two star vehicles are as strong as these were, you can at least be distracted from the horrifying “rain” noises and disruptive set changes.

Lee Backhouse as Seymour Krelbourne is a star in the making, and I believe he should be taken away from the world of drab am dram and put on a professional stage. His portrayal of the character is up there with Rick Moranis, at least to me. His comedy is on point and his singing voice is not half bad.

Nathalie Gunn plays Audrey, the ditzy blonde. Nathalie really made this character her own, bringing less of the ditzy and more of the sass. Her singing voice is beautiful and she suits the part perfectly, particularly in her act one solo “Somewhere That’s Green”.

That moment should be a particularly touching and lovely moment, not comedic in the acting but purely in the lyrics. This song was ruined for me, as the ensemble came on in tree costumes, making the audience laugh and distract from the true meaning on the song.

The ensemble were strong, despite there being 8 members of the 3 membered “geek” chorus. They made it work though, and some of their harmonies were on point. They had some fairly basic choreography by Lucy Saunders, which helped to highlight the vocal points.

The puppet is a strong point of the show, and when you’ve got a good puppet, the show is made! The puppet was very decently made, and whilst it was not a highlight of the show for me, the puppet was good enough to not take away from the fantastic vocals on display.

The set was particularly colourless, making the costumes pop against the background.

The director of the show, Richard Stride, also played the voice of Audrey 2. The director of the show should know his source marterial, yet he didn’t seem to at all. His singing was out of time and some of his directorial choices were…questionable, to say the least.

Perhaps a proper MD would have been better?

Overall, I was severely disappointed with the show. The cast had some real potential yet were let down by strange directorial and choreographic choices.

REVIEW: Ordinary Days The Musical

Reviewed by Charlie White

I was lucky enough to be able to see Ordinary Days at the Edinburgh Fringe, a musical about four peoples day to day lives can connect with each other. It follows the story of Claire, Jason, Deb and Warren, trying to find their way in life and make some tough decisions. 

The venue was extremely intimate so it was a scaled back production but I could see it had a lot of potential.

The songs had a typical theatrical feel but with a modern edge which I thought was quite refreshing for a musical.

The cast was made up of four people. Neil Cameron was great as Warren, I think he played the role fairly vulnerably which I thought suited the character and there was a definite likability factor. The role of Deb was performed by Nora Perone who I have to say was wonderful throughout. Her comedy with the character was excellent and combined with her acting, facial expressions and lovely voice, it was great! Alistair Frederick and Kirby Hughes played couple Jason and Claire and I think they both portrayed the emotion wonderfully! I was moved by their touching performances.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see Ordinary Days before my trip to Edinburgh so I’m not sure how much they had to adapt to the festival however one thing I would say is that the ending seemed quite abrupt.

Overall it had a great base to a fresh modern musical and I see lots of potential! Would be great to see it somewhere with proper staging etc, but the cast did a fantastic job! 

4stars

HAIR EXTENSION! and initial CASTING for 50th Anniversary Production


HAIR‘s new 50th anniversary production is to have a HAIR extension through to New Year 2018! The show was due to run until early December but already due to popular demand the show is now extending for a further 6 weeks to SUNDAY 14 JANUARY 2018 – the perfect night out especially over the Festive Season!

The iconic tribal rock musical HAIR opens at London’s fully immersive Off-West-End theatre, The Vaults, from WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER 2017 and is now to run to SUNDAY 14 JANUARY 2018. 

Still ground-breaking at the age of 50, HAIR opened off-Broadway in 1967, so to open this genuinely new production off-West-End in 2017 is the perfect move for Hope Mill Theatre’s acclaimed production, directed by Jonathan O’Boyle – as relevant now as it was in the 60s.

1967 and HAIR‘s hippie-hood youngsters live as The Tribe, in the East Village of New York: yearning to change the world, questioning authority and the American flag. They are wild, colourful, free, sexually liberated beautiful people who join in protest and song – under the shadow of the Vietnam War. Featuring classic hit songs: Aquarius, Let the Sun Shine In and Good Morning Star Shine – and the story of youth and war still resounds throughout the world making this a topical musical for the millennial generation. 2017 vividly sees the world protesting and marching, fighting for freedom of speech; from Trump to Brexit via Syria – the core spirit of HAIR.

Initial casting for this thrilling, young and moving production of HAIR includes: DANIEL BAILEY (Motown The Musical – Shaftesbury Theatre, The Lion King – Lyceum Theatre), ADAM DAWSON (Jet in West Side Story RSC Live – Stratford), JESSIE MAY (Fiona in Blondel – The New Union Theatre, Rock Of Ages – UK tour). And returning to the production are: NATALIE GREEN (Wicked – UK tour), LAURA JOHNSON (Rizzo in Grease – UK tour), SHEKINA MCFARLANE (Parade – Hope Mill Theatre, The Lion King – UK & International tour), ROBERT METSON (Ryan in Bear – Southwark Playhouse), LIAM ROSS-MILLS (Les Miserables – West End, Ben in Ushers: The Front of House Musical – Charing Cross Theatre), KORYANN STEVENS (West Side Story – Live Nation) and KIRSTEN WRIGHT (Our Seasons End – The AC Group).

Further casting to be announced, as the search continues to cast the roles of Berger, Hud and Margaret Mead!

The genuinely youthful cast will bring the original protest musical to life, in the intimate theatre seating just 200, revealing every emotion up close and personal through HAIR‘s drug fuelled journey.

Like a mini Woodstock, from the moment the audience arrive, The Vaults is transformed into a fully immersive 60s venue, with psychedelic, innovative creatives, iconic artwork and hippie flower power. With 60s themed pop up restaurants and themed drinks; plus stalls including: vintage 60s and tie dye clothes, 60s smiley badges and memorabilia, hippie wigs and flower headdresses, vinyl’s – everything needed for a legal high. The audience then move through to the theatre space for HAIR – the musical that changed the face of the modern musical.


COME JOIN THE TRIBE – HAIR

The 50th Anniversary production of HAIR transfers to London from its critically acclaimed run at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester.

VENUE: THE VAULTS (7AD, Leake St, London SE1 7NN)

PERFORMANCES: WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER 2017 – SUNDAY 14 JANUARY 2018

Previews: Wednesday 4/10 7.30pm, Thursday 5/10 3pm & 7.30pm, Friday 6/10 7.30pm, Saturday 7/10 7pm & 10pm and Monday 9/10 7.30pm.

TUESDAY to SUNDAY (no performances on a Monday)

Tuesday – 7.30pm

Wednesday – 7.30pm

Thursday – 3pm & 7.30pm

Friday – 7.30pm

Saturday – 7pm & 10pm New Saturday timings from 05/12/17 = 3pm & 7.30pm

Please note: Saturday show time changes to 3pm & 7.30pm in new booking period from 05/12/17-14/01/18

Sunday – 3pm

FESTIVE PERIOD PERFORMANCES AND TIMES STAY THE SAME

TICKET PRICES: £25 – £50

Age recommendation: 14+ (this show contains nudity)

BOX OFFICE: 020 7401 9603

WEBSITE: http://www.hair50.com

TWITTER: @Hair50London

HAIR Hope Mill Theatre production

***** The Reviews Hub: ‘Stunning’

***** North West End: ‘Astounding’

**** The Guardian: ‘Sweetly enticing’ – Lyn Gardner

**** The Stage: ‘Thrilling! Jonathan O’Boyle’s production left me walking on air’ – Mark Shenton

**** Northern Soul

**** Musical Theatre Review.

REVIEW: LIFT at the Stage Door, Southampton

Probably the best amateur production of a musical I’ve seen, Lift is a story about strangers in a lift, all in the perspective of a street busker.

Set in a busy Covent Garden tube station lift, we are crammed into the tight space with a Busker, a Secretary, a French Teacher, a Bright Young Thing, a Ballet Dancer, a Lap Dancer, a man that is Tall, Dark And Handsome, and a young girl who is Athletic And Wearing A Thong. Have you ever been on a lift with such a cast of characters and couldn’t help but think: “Who are these people and why are they here?” this musical explores the concept of that.

When I first heard of the concept of LIFT, earlier this year, I couldn’t help but ridicule it, and think to myself WHY someone would write a full-scale musical about one minute in a lift. A few weeks later, I purchased the video recording on Digital Theatre (the original London cast). I wasn’t too blown away, but slightly impressed. The concept was brilliant, but, like any video recording of a live performance, I wasn’t hooked.

When I found out that local musical theatre group Music Theatre South were producing LIFT in October 2016 at the Stage Door in Southampton, I knew I’d love to go. This wasn’t my first time with either MTS or the Stage Door, as I saw two performances of MTS’ production of RENT in October last year at the same theatre, which wasn’t exceptional, but it was a brilliant production and I was glad to have seen it’s first preview and final performance.

Come October this year, a few days before the first performance, I wasn’t too intent on going to see LIFT. Come Friday, the night before the final performance, I thought “Screw it, I’ll go and see LIFT tomorrow.”

I’m glad I did.

From the moment we entered the auditorium (which is situated above a noisy bar, a small little fringe/cabaret venue), we were immersed into an abstract Covent Garden station. The thrust staging really worked with the show, we decided to sit on one corner, so we could see the front of the stage but also the side. the “stage” is sat in the middle of the auditorium, where seats would usually be if using the usual proscenium staging, the stage was a raised platform, with four poles on the corners, with another platform on top, forming a box-type, to show the lift. The band were sat on the theatre’s permanent stage.

From the moment the audience entered the auditorium, Liam Baker, who wonderfully played The Busker was stood on stage, with a guitar and case full of pennies. Slowly, the other cast members entered the stage. None of them left the stage throughout the show.

The actors weren’t mic’d as this was a very intimate show, which I feel was a poor decision as there were many solos we couldn’t hear over the ensemble’s other verses, and sometimes the singing and/or dialogue couldn’t be heard over the walking around the stage (which was very loud, especially in the opening number.).

Adam Myers took the challenge of directing a sort of abstract piece and adapting it facing three sides of audience. He did it beautifully, though some of the jokes weren’t conveyed due to the staging, but for the most part it was beautifully. The vocals were extremely strong, and the vocalist that stood out for me the most was Imogen Johnson as The Bright Young Thing. Her rendition of Lost in Translations was gorgeous, she has an insanely strong range  and amazing vibrato control. She was insane.

The Lap Dancer, played by Sam Frith, was beautifully acted. Her singing voice too was beautiful, my only critique would be she has very natural hand movements when she sings, which aren’t controlled. When she sung It’s Been A Year, her hands often would flare out and then she’d hold her stomach. That needs to be controlled, but other than that she was an absolutely beautiful performer.

The production on a whole was amazing. Beautifully directed, and beautifully performed. It’s an extremely non-naturalistic piece, yet it’s naturalistic at the same time. The staging was so different to that of the London production, but this production could be mistaken for the London production.

Music Theatre South have put on an extremely well-done production. I wish I could see it all again in the future…perhaps on a bigger stage?

Nathan xoxo

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PS: Interview with the writers of a new Jack The Ripper Musical coming Monday, and coming up: Reviews on the new London production of Side Show and review on the long-awaited West End production of School Of Rock! 

 

NEWS: 21 CHUMP STREET Comes To LONDON?!?!

As part of the From Page To Stage showcase at the Tristan Bates theatre, Lin Manuel Miranda’s mini musical 21 Chump Street is coming to London.

The showcase’s Facebook page announced it to be playing from the 31st October-20th November, but the Tristan Bates theatre website says that the showcase is from the 11th-19th November.

Either way, we can’t wait. Get tickets here.

Nathan & Charlie xoxo

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21 Chump Street