Welcoming 2018 by finding my Blog and realising that it’s been far too long since I wrote on here.
In between then and now we’ve managed to survive (just) The Commitments Tour, 58 theatre visits in 2017, a heart attack (myself) and lots more little insignificant dramas along the way.
2018 is all about moving forward, working towards a few personal goals and having time to appreciate the moments; it’s about writing for the fun of it and seeing what happens and embracing a whole load of personal self-care time.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve not been here for a while mostly due to my real life dominating everything but also due to not actually being in a theatre but it’s half term and the week went from only one show booked in the diary to four being planned…
Today marks a return visit to Doctir Faustus and I’m hoping I feel the same way about it as I did the first time. Sitting higher up this time should provide us with a different perspective though.
Tomorrow sees us back at Jersey Boys and I’m pretty sure I will bash out a review with the help of the stagey daughter although quite how objective she will be, I couldn’t say.
Wednesday has to be the trip I’m most looking forward to as its a long awaited visit to see Funny Girl. I booked this whilst it was still at the Menier and regardless of the possibility of Ms Smith transferring with it. So this week we will see her understudy and it won’t bother me a bit.
The theatrical week finishes with a visit to Tom the musical at the New Alex in Birmingham. We’re really looking forward to catching up with old Commitments alumni, John and Dan in this but watch this space incase a mini review comes out!
After this week there is nothing booked until September. A feeling that I don’t much enjoy especially as there are a growing number of productions I’m overly keen to see. Oh and there is always Westend Live weekend…..
Saturday 30th April 19.30
New London Theatre
Show Boat promised to be an ‘old style’ musical that had been bought up to date from its 1927 origins. My initial thought was that this would be a difficult task. In reality what is seen on stage makes it look stunningly simple.There is no contrived modernisation of the work and indeed there is no further resolution of the issues of race and ethnic background that the original production addressed in such a ground breaking manner. This production does,however, perfectly combine both the black and the white characters together in dance and movement; drawing attention to what earlier productions had not done in such a strong statement. It left us with a stark realisation of why the original Show Boat broke so many rules at the time.
Emmanuel Kojo’s rendition of Ol’ Man River certainly demonstrated the nature of slavery and the sense that it had gone on forever and would continue to do so. He conjures up a a feeling of longing for change coupled with quiet resignation.
Sandra Marvin as Queenie shows us a strong character, rather than simply a jovial cook, who was fiercely proud of her heritage and we undoubtedly believe that Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man was derived from her roots. Indeed it is Queenie who reminds the younger generation of how to dance it correctly.
Together the pair had great timing and chemistry; we really cared for these people who were resilient, determined but caring and positive.
In terms of musical style Show Boat is more operetta than more modern shows. Certainly the heroine, Magnolia pays more than a nod to this. Here she is played by Gina Beck who was a joy to watch and hear.
The choreography is beautiful throughout and the set prices are exhilarating serving to drive the forward the action. The story in this particular production remains strong.
All in all Show Boat was a great night out, the teen who is often opinionated about her great love for Sondheim over Hammerstein, enjoyed it thoroughly. Although I’ve only written about several of the cast specifically all the ensemble were flawless.
The only disappointment I had was that for such a great show, with excellent reviews,the audience were lacking in numbers. Our upgraded seats (from restricted view dress circle to slightly off centre stalls) were a bonus for us but actually I’d much prefer to have seen a theatre full of people experiencing such an important show.
Saturday 23rd April 19.30
There’s something to be said for going into a venue and a show completely fresh. Aside from listening to the songs of Toxic Avenger (with Music by David Bryan and Lyrics from Joe DiPietro) and being vaguely aware of the story we weren’t really sure what to expect. We’d been promising ourselves a trip to Southwark Playhouse and this seemed the perfect opportunity.
It has to be said at this point that Hermione had been refusing to listen to it as it had been recommended by her mother and the husband had left our company for an evening with Pinter curtesy of the Old Vic.
A minimal, paired down set and very small cast meant that this production was clearly going to rely on the music and the book for setting the scenes and guiding us through.
What followed was a riotous comedy that never takes itself seriously. There are hilarious nods in the direction of Phantom, Les Mis, Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors. It’s a fast paced show that sends itself up, plays to the audience cleverly and had us in tears of laughter for much of the time.
Performance wise no one could have been faulted. Mark ANderson and Hannah Grover are make for a great pairing with entertaining characterisations of Melvin and Sarah. A shout out must surely go to Marc Pickering and Ashley Samuels who have the job of playing multiple characters including Sarah’s female friends, at break neck speed with flawless comic timing. Lizzii Hills as the mayor and Melvin’s mother provided us with a fantastic performance for the face off that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
All in all this is a musical that doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Yes there are messages to be taken from it but it packs in the laughter. It’s cartoon like as indeed it should be without being over the top.
This performance, I believe was the second preview and certainly didn’t feel that way. Is it too early to request a West End run?
The whole review/ writing about/ commenting upon different theatrical experiences could be a minefield. Here’s what to expect!
- Considered opinion
- My view of the whole experience from start to finish.
What you WON’T get:
- Unnecessary personal comments