Saturday, 27 June 2020

Online Theatre: 'She Loves Me', 'An American in Paris' and 'Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of She Loves Me, An American in Paris and Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall!

She Loves Me


"Meet Amalia and Georg, who work as clerks in Maraczek’s Parfumerie and aren’t exactly the best of friends. However, they have something in common. They both rapturously write to romantic pen pals. Despite the anonymity of their secret admirers, they live for the love letters that they exchange and the day they will finally meet."

I first saw the Broadway production of She Loves Me during my trip to New York in 2016, and loved it. As a result, I was thrilled to once again have the opportunity to watch this magnificent production. The show features an utterly stellar cast, and each and every one of them brings so much energy to their respective performances. They are all incredible to watch, and the range of talent shown is striking. In particular, Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski were all spellbinding. The scenic design, by David Rockwell, won a Tony Award in 2016, and rightfully so. The attention to detail is absolutely extraordinary, and the level of thought and effort that had been put into it was remarkable.

She Loves Me can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): She Loves Me.

An American in Paris


"Based on the 1951 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, An American in Paris brings to life the beauty of post-war Paris with one of the most romantic stage musicals ever seen. World War II Army veteran Jerry Mulligan is eager to begin a new life in the newly-liberated city of Paris, following an army career and brutal realisation of combat. Dreaming of living in the city of love and making a name for himself as a famous painter, he meets the beautiful Lise, a young Parisian shop girl who has her own secret."

I viewed the Broadway production of An American in Paris in 2016, before getting the chance to see it again in Chicago the following year. I awarded the show five stars both times, and it remains to be one of the best musicals I have ever seen. The show is very dance-oriented, and the choreography in An American in Paris is among the best I have ever seen. In particular, the ballet section featured within the titular number is breathtaking, and the large ensemble of dancers are mesmerising. The cast featured in this production are also outstanding. I had previously seen Leanne Cope perform in the role of Lise on Broadway, and her performance was just as good as I had remembered it. Robert Fairchild, as Jerry, was equally as excellent. Fairchild is a very skilled performer, and proves to be a triple threat; he's a very good actor, a talented singer and a truly phenomenal dancer.

An American in Paris can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): An American in Paris.

Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall


"Backed by a full band and a ready wit, actor Ben Platt opens up a very personal songbook onstage - numbers from his debut LP, "Sing to Me Instead.""

Ben Platt is undoubtedly among my favourite performers; whilst I was familiar with his previous musical theatre work, I primarily came to know Platt through his work on the new Netflix show 'The Politician'. The Politician grew to become a personal favourite of mine, and thus it was a privilege to see Platt in a new light. Firstly, there can be no doubt regarding Platt's abilities as a singer. He truly has a voice like no other, and his vocal range is simply remarkable. It should be noted that Platt writes all of his own music, which is commendable in itself. His lyrics are very heartfelt, and I personally found it extremely easy to connect with his music. Platt expresses his emotions very well through his lyrics, producing outstanding results.

Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall can be watched on Netflix here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Ben Platt.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Online Theatre: 'Kinky Boots', 'The Wiz Live' and 'The Madness of George III'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of Kinky Boots, The Wiz Live and The Madness of George III!

Kinky Boots


"Set in Northampton, a young Charlie Price reluctantly inherits his father's struggling shoe factory, much to the dismay of his demanding fiancé who dreams of a life together in London. Charlie wrestles with his desires to leave his home town whilst facing up with his responsibility to save his father's legacy and the family business from bankruptcy. After a slow start Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola, a fabulous drag performer who is in need of some sturdy stilettos for her act. Against all the odds Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie, and they work together to ensure the factory becomes a success."

I first saw Kinky Boots in 2015 and instantly fell in love with it. It currently stands as one of my favourite musicals of all time, and I would even go as far to say that it would easily make my top 10. Its story, with a book written by actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, is extremely heartfelt; the show's universal message of acceptance is well and truly timeless. Each and ever character is so well written, and you can't help but root for the leads, Charlie and Lola, to succeed in their endeavours. The musical score, by singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, is equally as brilliant. It proves to be very diverse, featuring a number of big and up-beat production numbers, as well as a few heartwarming ballads. The leading performances of this production, with Killian Donnelly as Charlie and Matt Henry as Lola, are magnificent. Their chemistry is electric, and they compliment each other's talents nicely. 

Kinky Boots can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Kinky Boots.

The Wiz Live


"The Wiz Live!" brings the wonderful world of Oz to life like never before, featuring a star-studded cast of performers and the awe-inspiring Cirque du Soleil Theatrical. Whisked away from home by a tornado, young Dorothy finds herself transported to the magical Land of Oz, where she sets off on a quest to meet the powerful Wizard and find her way back home. Crossing paths with enchanting friends and wicked foes, Dorothy’s journey is a timeless tale about friendship, courage and learning to believe in oneself."

The star-studded cast of this television special are utterly phenomenal, and feature a wide array of very talented performers. In the leading role of Dorothy Gale starred Shanice Williams, who was making her professional debut. Williams was truly faultless in this role, and proved herself to be a remarkable singer. She also had a terrific presence about her, and gave an all-round outstanding performance. Ne-Yo, as the Tin-Man, is also worthy of a special mention, and he too was excellent. In particular, Ne-Yo's voice was extraordinary. The show was stunning creatively, and the scenic design, by Derek McLane, was dazzling to behold. The costumes, by Paul Tazewell, were similarly impressive, and the detail given to the design was simply incredible.

The Wiz Live can no longer be watched on YouTube for free, though it can still be purchased either on Digital HD or DVD.

Madness of King George III


"Aging King George III of England is exhibiting signs of madness, a problem little understood in 1788. As the monarch alternates between bouts of confusion and near-violent outbursts of temper, his hapless doctors attempt the ineffectual cures of the day. Meanwhile, Queen Charlotte and Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger attempt to prevent the king's political enemies, led by the Prince of Wales, from usurping the throne.

This play marks a period of history of which I knew to a certain extent, though I was not overly familiar with it. I therefore really enjoyed learning about this crucial element of our past, and it proved to be intriguing. This production starred Mark Gatiss in the titular role of King George, and he really was exceptional. It's an extremely difficult role to play, and yet Gatiss was utter perfection in his portrayal. He thoroughly immersed himself into the role, and the character's descent into madness was very believable indeed. This production should also be commended for its striking scenery, all of which was designed by Robert Jones.

The Madness of George III can be watched on YouTube for free until 18th June here: The Madness of George III.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Monday, 8 June 2020

Online Theatre: 'Buried Child', 'Putting It Together' and 'Daddy Long Legs'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of Buried Child, Putting It Together and Daddy Long Legs.

Buried Child


"Dodge and Halie are barely hanging on to their farmland and their sanity while looking after their two wayward grown sons. When their grandson Vince arrives with his girlfriend, no one seems to recognize him, and confusion abounds.  As Vince tries to make sense of the chaos, the rest of the family dances around a deep, dark secret. This wildly poetic and cuttingly funny take on the American family drama gleefully pulls apart the threadbare deluded visions of our families and our homes."

In this particular production, the role of Dodge is portrayed by Ed Harris, a role for which he received Lucille Lortel and Olivier Award nominations for. Harris was utterly outstanding in this role, and was highly believable from beginning to end. It was however Paul Sparks, as Tilden, that stole the show. Tilden is arguably the most challenging role in the whole piece, due to the character's apparent state of mental illness. In spite of this, Sparks excelled at creating a compelling characterisation, and was extremely convincing. In relation to the show's creative aspects, the scenic design by Derek McLane was yet another highlight, and proved to be rather effective.

Buried Child can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Buried Child.

Putting It Together


"The show is a compilation of songs by Stephen Sondheim, including numbers from Follies, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Dick Tracy, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George and others. The theme is a party and the songs cleverly weave a tale of action and reflection on, of course, the subject of relationships."

Whilst there are many composers and lyricists out there who I greatly commend, it is Stephen Sondheim that I have the most admiration for. Whilst there are many who trail closely behind, I genuinely believe that Sondheim is the greatest musical theatre composer, and I consequently found this to be an outstanding tribute to his legacy. Putting It Together is very cleverly put together (pun not intended), and features a good selection of songs from a variety of Sondheim classics, including the likes of Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George. Additionally, the slight plot added to interlink the songs was an intriguing feature, and helped to make the show even more entertaining. The cast of this production featured Carol Burnett, George Hearn, Ruthie Henshall and John Barrowman, all of which were magnificent. Each and every one of them had phenomenal voices, delivering faultless renditions of these iconic songs. They also had great chemistry with one another, creating an interesting dynamic onstage. 

Putting It Together can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Putting It Together.

Daddy Long Legs


 "Set in turn-of-the-century New England, the musical tells the story of orphan Jerusha Abbott of the John Grier Home and her mysterious benefactor who agrees to send her to college, who she dubs "Daddy Long Legs" after seeing his elongated shadow. Under the conditions of her benefactor, Jerusha sends him a letter once a month, describing her new-found experiences with life outside the orphanage."

Daddy Long Legs has an exceedingly compelling story to it, telling a tale that is both humorous and heartwarming. It favourably reminded me of the classic Harnick and Bock musical 'She Loves Me', and certainly had a similar charm to it. The show's musical score by Paul Gordon is equally as enthralling as its story, and is truly marvellous. The show is almost entirely sung through, and Gordon does a remarkable job of conveying the story and characters through the lyrics. The show features only two characters, who in this instances were portrayed by Megan McGinnis and Adam Haplin; a real-life husband and wife duo. This may go without saying, but McGinnis and Haplin had very good chemistry with one another, and created pure magic when together. Both are extraordinarily talented performers; they boast strong vocals, and each of them created a fascinating characterisation for their respective roles. 

Daddy Long Legs can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Daddy Long Legs.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Friday, 5 June 2020

Online Theatre: 'Holiday Inn', 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill' and 'Oklahoma'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of Holiday Inn, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill and Oklahoma!

Holiday Inn


"In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted, Jim leaves town with a broken heart. After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking -- and falling for -- Linda. But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda."

The original 'Holiday Inn' movie, first released in 1942, is among my all-time favourite Christmas films; it's a movie that I find utterly delightful. As a result, I was rather intrigued to see how the film would translate onto the stage, and thankfully it lived up to my expectations. The choreography, by Denis Jones, is the show's most striking element, and was deservedly nominated for a Tony Award upon the show's debut. In particular, the show's big production numbers were truly awe-inspiring. Beyond its choreography, Holiday Inn also boasts an extraordinary cast, featuring the likes of Bryce Pinkham, Corbin Bleu and Lora Lee Gayer. The entirety of the cast were exceptionally talented, and there wasn't a weak link among them.

Holiday Inn can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Holiday Inn.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill


"Spend an intimate evening filled with some of the most inspiring and moving songs ever written and hear the personal stories of legendary jazz icon Billie Holiday's loves and losses through a turbulent but extraordinary life."

I had hoped to see Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill during its brief stint in the West End a number of years ago, but unfortunately I never had a chance to do so. I was therefore overjoyed to finally have the opportunity to at last see it. For her performance in Lady Day, Audra McDonald received a Tony Award, and it's easy to see why. Her performance is well and truly mesmerising, and she fully immerses herself in the role from beginning to end. McDonald's transformation into Billie Holiday is very impressive indeed, and proves to be very believable. McDonald also has an excellent signing voice, and one which faultlessly matched Holiday's. 

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill can be watched on Broadway HD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill.

Oklahoma


"Based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs, Oklahoma! is set in 1906 out on the farmyards near Claremore, Indian Territory, and it follows a courtship rivalry between a farm girl Laurey Williams and two would-be suitors in cowboy Curly McLain and menacing farmhand Jud Fry."

Although this production is over 20 years old, it is of a truly exceptional quality. I thoroughly enjoyed watching every minute of it, and it may very well be one of the best pieces of online theatre that I have seen throughout the lockdown. The show lasts three hours, and yet it held my attention from the beginning right up until the very end. The cast of this particular production are outstanding, featuring one of the strongest ensembles that I have ever seen. Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle, Shuler Hensley and Maureen Lipman all gave stellar performances, and none of them could be faulted in any way. Oklahoma's choreography, by Susan Stroman, is equally as magnificent; the dance numbers featured within the production were spectacular. Additionally, the ensemble proved to be a very talented group of dancers, and their level of skill was simply like no other.

Oklahoma can be watched on Broadway HD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Oklahoma.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Monday, 1 June 2020

Online Theatre: 'A Woman of No Importance', 'This House' and 'Hairspray Live'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of A Woman of No Importance, This House and Hairspray Live!

A Woman of No Importance


"Set in the nineteenth century, Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance follows a group of guests at party at Lady Hunstanton's estate in the lavish English countryside. The party's guests, which include the widow Mrs Arbuthnot, her son Gerald and American outsider Hester,  uncover truths about themselves and each other that will alter their lives forever."

A Woman of No Importance has an interesting story to it, with an intriguing exploration into motherhood. In particular, it focuses in on life as a single mother, with Rachel Arbuthnot at the centre of this; a character that proves to be extremely compelling and easy to sympathise with. Eve Best did an excellent job at portraying Rachel, and accordingly created a characterisation that was both likeable and personable. Anne Reid, who portrayed Lady Hunstanton, is equally deserving of a special mention, and provided much needed comic relief to the production. Reid proved to be utterly hilarious throughout, and had impeccable comedic timing. The scenic design, by Jonathan Fensom, was yet another admirable element, and really brought the play's setting to life. 

A Woman of No Importance can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): A Woman of No Importance.

This House


"1974. The UK faces economic crisis and a hung parliament. In a culture hostile to cooperation, it’s a period when votes are won or lost by one, when there are fist fights in the bars and when sick MPs are carried through the lobby to register their vote. It’s a time when a staggering number of politicians die, and the building creaks under idiosyncrasies and arcane traditions."

I had previously seen the West End production of This House in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to watch the original National Theatre production. Funnily enough, I think I may have even enjoyed it more the second time around, having been able to process everything that took place a lot easier. James Graham, the mastermind behind This House, is among my favourite playwrights, and This House is certainly one of this best works. Graham is particularly skilled at dialogue, and has a talent for continuously advancing the narrative whilst still keeping the audience engaged from beginning to end. The play covers a really interesting part of our history, and it's fascinating to see the parallels to modern-day politics. As in 1974, minority governments still often end in failure, and the Labour Party continue to suffer from bitter internal divisions. It would seem that 50 years on, not all that much has changed! The scenic design, by Rae Smith, is remarkable, and masterfully recreates the House of Commons live onstage. The idea to have audience members double up as parliamentary backbenchers was ingenious, and I'm sure being in those seats must have been quite the experience.

This House can be watched on YouTube for free until 4th June here: This House.

Hairspray Live


"In 1960s Baltimore, dance-loving teen Tracy Turnblad auditions for a spot on "The Corny Collins Show" and wins. She becomes an overnight celebrity, a trendsetter in dance, fun and fashion. Perhaps her new status as a teen sensation is enough to topple Corny's reigning dance queen and bring racial integration to the show."

Hairspray is a real feel-good show that will no doubt leave you in a good mood, whilst still tackling a number of exceedingly important societal issues. In spite of the fact that Hairspray is set in the 1960's, its message of racial tolerance is more relevant than ever in the present day. Similar to the show's story, the musical score of Hairspray is also timeless. Almost every single musical number is catchy, upbeat and memorable. In the leading role of Tracy Turnblad was Maddie Baillio who, in this instance, was making her professional acting debut. Baillio was utterly remarkable, and seemed like a perfect choice for the role. Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, however, stole the show. She proved to be an overall highlight, giving a scene-stealing rendition of 'I Know Where I've Been'. Special mentions should also be awarded to Harvey Fierstein and Ephraim Sykes, as Edna Turnblad and Seaweed J. Stubbs respectively; both of whom were phenomenal. 

Hairspray Live can no longer be watched on YouTube for free, though it can still be purchased either on Digital HD or DVD.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Online Theatre: 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and 'Memphis'

Hey readers!
It's time for my mini-reviews of A Streetcar Named Desire, The Importance of Being Earnest and Memphis!

A Streetcar Named Desire


"This renowned drama follows troubled former schoolteacher Blanche DuBois as she leaves small-town Mississippi and moves in with her sister, Stella Kowalski, and her husband, Stanley, in New Orleans. Blanche's flirtatious Southern-belle presence causes problems for Stella and Stanley, who already have a volatile relationship, leading to even greater conflict in the Kowalski household."

This production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which first debuted in 2015, has a number of remarkable qualities; the most striking element however was the show's stellar cast, led by Gillian Anderson in the role of Blanche DuBois. Anderson delivered a truly captivating performance, putting boundless amounts of energy into her performance from beginning to end. A special mention must also be awarded to Vanessa Kirby, as Stella Kowalski, who likewise gave a remarkable performance. The play has an interesting story to it, and the play's focal character of Blanche makes for a unique protagonist. In spite of the fact that Blanche isn't instantly likeable, she really develops as the play goes on, and you can't help but sympathise with her position by the very end. The scenic design of this production, by Magda Willi, is also worthy of praise, and proved to be rather impressive. 

A Streetcar Named Desire can no longer be watched on YouTube for free. 

The Importance of Being Earnest


"Two bachelor friends, upper crust dandy Algernon Moncrieff and the most reliable John Worthing J.P., lead double lives to court the attentions of the desirable Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. The gallants must then grapple with the uproarious consequences of their ruse, and with the formidable Lady Bracknell."

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play that I am very much familiar with; I had previously seen the UK tour in 2015, before viewing an abridged version of it on a cruise ship a number of years ago. As a result, I know the story quite well, and it was interesting to see another interpretation of it. The show follows a fun concept, making use of comical misunderstandings and farcical elements, as well as witty dialogue throughout. The strongest performances of this particular production came from Pippa Nixon, as Gwendolen Fairfax, and Fiona Button, as Cecily Cardew; both of which were excellent. Nixon and Button really struck a perfect balance between believable characterisation and effective comedy, delivering outstanding performances in the process.

The Important of Being Earnest can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): The Importance of Being Earnest.

Memphis


"Featuring an original score with gospel, rhythm & blues, and early rock 'n' roll fused with Byran’s own contemporary sensibility, Memphis follows the fictionalized life story of young, white radio disc jockey Huey Calhoon growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950’s. An unlikely hero with a great love of the music he hears in the black bars on Beale Street, Huey’s on-air antics and unstoppable enthusiasm for 'race records' creates a new white audience for African-American music. His personal life transcends the race line as well, when he falls in love with a beautiful black singer - with dramatic consequences."

I had previously seen the West End production of Memphis a number of years ago and adored it, so I was beyond thrilled to have the chance to watch the Broadway production. Memphis has a truly inspiring story, and it's gripping from beginning to end. The main character of Huey Calhoun is particularly compelling; the way his moral compass guides him throughout in order to bring about a more tolerant society is really moving, and his character development is excellently portrayed. The musical score, by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, is yet another reason to admire Memphis. It primarily features soul music, all of which is masterful. The cast were all remarkable, and there really was not one weak link among the principal cast. Each and every performer was a triple threat, with excellent acting abilities, strong vocals and extraordinary dancing.

Memphis can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Memphis.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Online Theatre: 'Falsettos', 'Pippin' and 'Sea Wall'

Hey readers!
This week comes with a small development in relation to my online theatre-going. I recently purchased an online subscription for BroadwayHD, which is an on-demand digital streaming media for theatrical productions. BroadwayHD has a wide array of phenomenal shows within its collection, so if you too find yourself missing theatre, then this may be something to look into. I have still continued to watch the free theatre made available online as well though, and consequently remain spoilt for choice.

Falsettos


"Falsettos is the story of a large, eccentric, and dysfunctional -- but loving -- Jewish family in New York at the end of the 1970s. Initially, Marvin seems blessed with the perfect family. He has a caring wife, Trina and a young son, Jason. Nevertheless, the family is soon broken apart, when the homosexual Marvin leaves Trina for a man called Whizzer."

Falsettos has a really interesting story to it, featuring a very clever concept and fascinating characters. The family dynamic portrayed is Falsettos is intriguing, and I really found myself sympathising with each and every character as the show went on. The musical score, by William Finn, won a Tony Award when the musical first premiered in 1992 and it is easy to see why. The show is entirely sung-through, meaning that it relies on the music and lyrics alone to convey the story; something which is done very well. I particularly admired the song 'What Would I Do?', which proved to be very touching. In the leading role of Marvin starred Christian Borle, who was utterly captivating to watch. Despite the fact that Marvin makes a number of bad decisions throughout the course of the show, Borle made it very easy for the audience to ultimately sympathise with him and understand his way of thinking. A special mention must also be given to Stephanie J. Block, who portrayed Trina. Block was incredible in her performance, and her rendition of 'I'm Breaking Down' was an undeniable highlight.

Falsettos can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): https://www.broadwayhd.com/movies/AW2GubDEpx3F9_4AqewY?display=poster.

Pippin


"Vaudeville, magic, comedy, romance – life is an adventure and Pippin has it all. A soul-searching exploration of one man’s journey to find himself, his place and purpose in life, Pippin is a musical about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey."

I had previously seen an Off-West End production of Pippin two years ago at the Southwark Playhouse, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This particular production available on video however is a filmed version of the original, dating back to 1981. It was quite something to watch a theatrical production from so long ago, and certainly proved to be an unusual experience. The most striking aspect of Pippin is arguably its musical score, written by the extraordinarily talented Stephen Schwartz. It is filled with a dozen catchy tunes, and I listen to the cast album on a regular basis. Among my favourites are 'Corner of the Sky', 'Simple Joys' and 'Morning Glow'. Praise must also be awarded to the choreography, which was the work of Bob Fosse. Fosse's work is truly iconic, and was a joy to watch.

Pippin can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): https://www.broadwayhd.com/movies/AXDwGLqhDUy8ML9nzRxy?display=poster.

Sea Wall


"Sea Wall is a short play about a man named Alex who speaks of his wife, visiting his father in the south of France, and his daughter, peppered with musings about religion and beliefs."

Sea Wall consists of a 30 minute monologue, performed in its entirety by Andrew Scott without the assistance of any other performer. The monologue, written by Simon Stephens is intriguing, and keeps the audience engaged from beginning to end. It's a very well written piece of theatre, and is evidently very moving. Stephens wrote the play for Andrew Scott, who was unsurprisingly perfect for the role of Alex. Scott was remarkable, and held my attention throughout. He proved to be very engaging, and gave an enthralling performance. Scott is unquestionably a very gifted actor, and I hope one day to see him perform live. 

Sea Wall can be watched on YouTube for free until 25th May here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j01kVmBoJW0.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Online Theatre: 'Frankenstein', 'Cyprus Avenue' and '21 Chump Street'

Hey readers!
Following on from my previous three posts, I have continued to view the various theatrical productions which have kindly been placed online by producers for free. Productions such as these started streaming a number of weeks ago, and it has really brought a number of theatregoers, including myself, a lot of joy. Without further ado, here are the shows that I have seen since my last post:

Frankenstein


"Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal."

I studied Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a number of years ago in quite extensive detail, and I am consequently rather familiar with the source material on which this play is based. This is a really interesting adaptation, and the focus on the Creature, as opposed to Frankenstein, worked very well from a narrative stand-point. I felt that the Creature was really developed from what we see in the book, and it was refreshing to see a new take on the character. The particular version of the play that I watched had Benedict Cumberbatch portraying Creature, and he was well and truly extraordinary. He gives a masterclass in physicality, and the way he used his body to convey the character was astonishing. He made the Creature very believable indeed, making it very easy to empathise with him. Jonny Lee Miller was also outstanding as Victor Frankenstein, proving both an intense and impassioned performance. Creatively, this production of Frankenstein is stunning. The most striking element is arguably the costume, make-up and wig of the Creature; all of these were very effective, and really helped to aid Benedict Cumberbatch's spectacular transformation. 

Frankenstein can no longer be watched on YouTube for free. 

Cyprus Avenue


"Eric Miller is a Belfast Loyalist. He believes his five-week old granddaughter is Gerry Adams. His family keep telling him to stop living in the past and fighting old battles that nobody cares about anymore but his cultural heritage is under siege. He must act. The story of one man struggling with the past and terrified of the future."

Cyprus Avenue proved to be a rather thought-provoking play, and included a number of very interesting themes. The play acts as a cautionary tale, and demonstrates the many ways in which prejudice can consume an individual. Additionally, the exploration into themes relating to The Troubles was also rather compelling. In the leading role of Eric Miller starred Stephen Rea, who gave a performance that was truly incredible. He was very convincing in the part, and the character's decent into madness was performed very skilfully indeed. 

Cyprus Avenue can be watched on YouTube for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptCyZYzUx4M.

21 Chump Street


"21 Chump Street is a cautionary tale of a high school honors student who falls for a cute transfer girl. He goes to great lengths to oblige her request for marijuana in the hopes of winning her affection - only to find out his crush is actually an undercover cop planted in the school to find drug dealers."

21 Chump Street is inspired by true events, which only makes this heartbreaking tale even more tragic. The main character, Justin, is a very sympathetic figure, and one can only feel great sorrow when reflecting upon his story. It really opened my eyes to the war on drugs that takes place within the United States, and I would be very interested to learn more about this real-life case. The musical score of 21 Chump Street was written by Lin Manuel-Miranda, who is known across the globe for having written 'In the Heights' and 'Hamilton'. The score was excellent, delivering a handful of memorable and catchy tunes. Anthony Ramos, in the leading role of Justin Laboy, was remarkable. His characterisation of the role made it really easy to relate with the character, and in turn made him very likeable. In addition to this, he was a very gifted singer, and proved be a skilled dancer as well. 

21 Chump Street can be watched on YouTube for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELBGa6-uOhc.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Online Theatre: 'Treasure Island', 'Love Never Dies' and 'Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration'

Hey readers!
It is officially week 6 of the lockdown for those of us in the United Kingdom, and yet the theatre community is still going strong. There continues to be a wide array of online theatre available online, leaving audience members spoilt for choice. I myself have continued my occasional experience of online theatre, and have very much enjoyed it. Without further delay, here are the shows that I have had the pleasure of seeing throughout the past two weeks:

Treasure Island


"It’s a dark, stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins."

The most striking aspect of the National Theatre production of Treasure Island was its extraordinary scenic design, created by Lizzie Clachan. The set really brought the surroundings of the play to life, and made it easy to immerse yourself within the action. In particular, the design of the pirate ship was remarkable, as was the island scenery. Treasure Island also boasts an exceptional cast, with Patsy Ferran in the leading role of Jim. Ferran gave a remarkable performance, and was excellent from beginning to end. Finally, I also greatly admired the animatronic parrot that was used in the show. It was an excellent addition, and added a lot of much-needed humour to the show.

Treasure Island can no longer be watched on YouTube.

Love Never Dies


"The musical is set in 1907, a decade after the end of Phantom. Christine Daaé is invited to perform at Phantasma, a new attraction in Coney Island, by an anonymous impresario and, with her husband Raoul and son Gustave in tow, journeys to Brooklyn, unaware that it is the Phantom who has arranged her appearance in the popular beach resort."

Prior to watching the livestream of Love Never Dies I was quite familiar with the show, having seen the US National Tour in Summer 2018. Whilst I know that the show has a tendency to divide opinions, I personally quite enjoy it. First and foremost, I am very fond of the musical score, which is truly enchanting. I am quite a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's work, and he never disappoints. Among my personal favourites from this score are 'Til I Hear You Sing', 'Beneath a Moonless Sky' and 'The Beauty Underneath'. In addition to that, the entirety of the cast were utterly captivating to watch. It was however Anna O'Byrne as Christine Daaé that stole the show. O'Bryne had a beautiful voice, and delivered a wonderful rendition of the titular song, 'Love Never Dies'.

Love Never Dies can no longer be watched on YouTube for free, though it can still be purchased either on Digital HD or DVD.

Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration


"Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration was chock-full of Broadway goodness: Mandy Patinkin singing outside with his dog, Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt's adorable "It Takes Two," Bernadette Peters' a cappella "No One Is Alone," Neil Patrick Harris' "Witch's Rap," Patti LuPone breaking hearts with "Anyone Can Whistle," a Sunday in the Park with George reunion for Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Giants in the Sky," Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and Meryl Streep's highly GIF-able "Ladies Who Lunch" and so many more!"

Take Me to the World was an absolutely incredible event to witness; it was well and truly awe-inspiring in every sense of the word. It featured a number of my all-time favourite artists, and it was such a privilege to have the opportunity to watch them all perform. The event in itself was very well done and was masterfully edited, featuring a great variety of different shows and songs. The concert proved to be the perfect tribute to Sondheim's long-lasting legacy, and I am thrilled that he was honoured in this fashion. Additionally, not only did the concert serve to honour Sondheim, but the event also helped to raise money for the charity of 'Artists Striving to End Poverty'; a very good cause indeed. My personal favourite from the evening was Alexander Gemignani, who performed 'Buddy's Blues' from Follies. Gemignani was thoroughly entertaining throughout the entirety of his song, and was just so much fun to watch. I also greatly enjoyed Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal performing 'Move On' from Sunday in the Park with George. Watching that performance brought back so many memories of watching them together on Broadway, and I hope we can see them return to the stage sooner rather than later. Special mentions must also be given to Raúl Esparza, who performed 'Take Me to the World' from Evening Primrose, and Randy Rainbow, who performed 'By the Sea' from Sweeney Todd. 

Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration can be watched on YouTube for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A92wZIvEUAw.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Online Theatre: 'Only the Brave', 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Hey readers!
In these rather uncertain times, the theatre community has continued to remain strong, and we still stand as one. A number of individuals within the industry have carried on undertaking some very kind deeds, allowing people to stream theatre online from the safety and comfort of their homes. I, along with many others, have very much appreciated these acts of kindness, and have really enjoyed my weekly dose of online theatre. It still continues to be a very positive experience, and I would highly recommend it. So, without further ado, here are the theatre shows that I have seen throughout the past two weeks:

Only the Brave


"Only the Brave, recounts the raw courage and determination of those who fought and felt the physical and emotional pain of the Second World War. It tells the story of a group of brave soldiers embarking on a dangerous mission that holds the key to the success of the D-Day Landings. This rousing and original musical interweaves the soldier’s stories with that of their families and loved ones. Based on true events, Only The Brave evokes the camaraderie and bravery of the second world war generation."

Only the Brave follows a really moving story, and I for one was very touched by it. The fact that it was inspired by true events makes it all the more heartbreaking, and I was in tears by the end of the show. The pacing was absolutely excellent and I was on the edge of my seat throughout; I personally found that the time flew by. It features a really talented cast, all of whom created characters that proved easy to sympathise with. The leading actors, David Thaxton and Neil McDermott, were particularly outstanding and had remarkable chemistry with one another. I was surprised that I had not previously heard of this show, and was seriously impressed by it. When theatres re-open, it would be nice to see Only the Brave transfer to the West End.

Only the Brave can be watched on Vimeo for free here: https://vimeo.com/403297083

Jesus Christ Superstar


"The musical looks at the last week of Jesus’ life, including his arrival in Jerusalem with his disciples, and crucifixion. It includes a number of classic rock musical numbers including 'Gethsemane', 'I Don’t Know How To Love Him', 'Everything’s Alright' and 'Superstar'."

Prior to watching this livestream, I had previously seen two different live productions of Jesus Christ Superstar: the 2015 UK tour and the 2017 Regent's Park Open Air Theatre revival. This production however, staged at the O2 music venue, is like no other; it takes the show into the modern-day, using the 2011 London riots as inspiration for the setting. The interpretation of Jesus bring a political leader and moral philosopher of sorts is an interesting one, and is particularly compelling from the viewpoint of one who has studied religion and philosophy. In relation to the cast, Tim Minchin steals the show with his extraordinary performance as Judas Iscariot. Minchin has an incredible presence about him, and his vocal range is sensational. Alexander Hanson, as Pontius Pilate, is also worthy of a special mention, giving an intense and exceptional performance. 

Jesus Christ Superstar can no longer be watched on YouTube for free, though it can still be purchased either on Digital HD or DVD.

The Phantom of the Opera


"Deep in the bowels of the Paris Opera House a disfigured genius becomes obsessed with a young ballet dancer, Christine Daae. As he teaches her singing, becoming her 'angel of music', she finds herself drawn to his charm and mystery, unable to resist his talents as a composer. The Phantom haunts the opera house, making demands of its new owners in an attempt to get Christine to star in a new opera that he has written especially for her. The handsome Raoul is also in love with Christine and challenges The Phantom for her affections, leading to an onstage disaster that literally brings down the house. The Phantom of the Opera is a haunting, romantic epic that will delight audiences both young and old."

This production of The Phantom of the Opera was done in honour of the show's 25th anniversary, and was staged at the Royal Albert Hall. This was a really special production, and quite possibly the best filmed theatre show I have sever seen. What makes this production so extraordinary is its stellar cast, all of which are marvellous; there was not one weak link among them. The highlight of this production is arguably Sierra Boggess's portrayal of Christine Daaé, who excels in this role. Having seen a fair few portrayals of Christine during my years of theatregoing, it is safe to say that Boggess delivers one of the strongest and most convincing performances of the character. Ramin Karimloo, as The Phantom, and Hadley Fraser, as Raoul, were also spectacular, with each giving memorable performances. In addition to this, the scenic and costume designs, by Matt Kinley and Maria Björnson respectively, were amazing and really added to the effect of the whole production. It was truly a pleasure to watch this, and I was thrilled to have such an opportunity.

The Phantom of the Opera can be watched on YouTube for free until 18th April here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nINQjT7Zr9w.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Friday, 3 April 2020

Online Theatre: 'Ghost Quartet', 'Eugenius' and 'One Man, Two Guvnors'

Hey readers!
As many of you are likely aware, all West End theatres closed with immediate effect on 16th March, with Broadway theatres having shut down several days prior to that. These are obviously difficult times for those who work in the entertainment industry, and my thoughts and prayers are with all of those that have been affected. In the meantime however, a number of stage shows, musicals and opera have been released online for people to watch online now for free; a truly wonderful gesture from some very kind producers. For those that have been missing the theatre in recent weeks, I would highly recommend taking part in online theatre streaming. Within the past two weeks, I have watched three excellent productions, and I am pleased to report positive experiences. Without further a do, here are the shows that I have seen throughout the past two weeks:

Ghost Quartet


"Rose has a problem. She’s been betrayed by her lover, a local tree-dwelling astronomer, with her very own sister. Rose seeks vengeance and a passing bear might just offer the answer. But his services come at a price: a pot of honey, one piece of stardust, a secret baptism – and a photo of a ghost. A kaleidoscopic journey spanning continents, centuries and the cosmos ensues. But even through the fogs of time and a haze of whiskey, Rose can’t shake the feeling that she’s done this all before…"

Ghost Quartet is a distinctive and quirky show, and it proved to be unlike anything I had ever seen before. Its unique nature is undeniable, and seemingly adds to the show's charm. It is almost entirely sung-through, and features an excellent musical score written by Dave Malloy. The score does bare a certain resemblance to one of Malloy's other works, 'Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812', so admirers of the Great Comet are likely to appreciate Ghost Quartet as well. Personal favourites of mine from the score include 'The Astronomer' and 'Hero'. The interaction with audience members was a particular highlight of the production, and it was fun to watch people involving themselves in the show. 

Ghost Quartet can be watched on YouTube for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJSaEJm8pCE.

Eugenius


"The story is about a teenager whose dreams provide him with the inspiration for a Hollywood blockbuster. Eugenius! boasts a totally originally score – Ben Adams’ homage to all the great sounds of the '80s - plus a scintillating script that makes you laugh, cry, and punch the air shouting #GoEugenius! This is a show where geeks rule, dreams come true, and everyone finds the superhero inside themselves – you’ve just gotta know where to look."

Eugenius boasts a brilliant cast, full of extremely talented individuals. In particular, Rob Houchen, Laura Baldwin and Dan Buckley were all phenomenal. They had excellent chemistry with one another, and delivered all-round outstanding performances. A department where Eugenius thrives is the feel-good factor which, at a time like this, is absolutely essential. It's an unquestionably fun show from beginning to end, and provided barrels of entertainment. 

Eugenius can be watched on YouTube for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTdm1ivNL2s.

One Man, Two Guvnors


"Fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End hood, now in Brighton to collect £6000 from his fiancee’s dad. But Roscoe is really his sister Rachel posing as her own dead brother, who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Holed up at the Cricketers’ Arms, the permanently ravenous Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a second job with one Stanley Stubbers, who is hiding from the police and waiting to be re-united with Rachel. To prevent discovery, Francis must keep his two guvnors apart. Simple."

The cast of One Man, Two Guvnors were truly incredible. James Corden and Oliver Chris are especially outstanding, with both actors delivering marvellous performances. Corden won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play for his work in One Man, Two Govnors, and after having seen the show for myself, it is easy to see why. His comedic timing was absolutely impeccable, and he was utterly hilarious to watch. In addition to this, he interacted with the audience very well, and proved rather talented at improvisation. The scenic design by Mark Thompson is another high point of the show, and really helped the play come to life. One Man, Two Govnors is a remarkably funny show, and its release comes at a time when comic relief is drastically needed in the world. The infamous dinner scene proves to be the highlight of the show in relation to comedy, and I was in stitches laughing. 

One Man, Two Guvnors can be watched on YouTube for free until 9th April here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzqcRwWVv8k.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Saturday, 21 March 2020

The Basic Theatre Awards 2020 - The Results!

Hey readers!

It has officially been 6 weeks since voting for the Basic Theatre Awards began, and I am overjoyed to at last be able to reveal the winners. It has been a great year for theatre across the globe, and it is great to have the opportunity to reward some of this year's strongest performances. I would like to thank all of those that kindly took the time to vote and spread the word; such effort is much appreciated. Without further delay, here are this year's winners...

Winning with 32% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play goes to...


Aimee Lou Wood in Downstate as Effie in the West End!


As with the entire cast of Downstate, Aimee Lou Wood was absolutely brilliant in Downstate. Her time on stage was limited, but despite this fact her performance still left a lasting impact. She provided much needed comedic relief in what was otherwise a very serious play, and had brilliant comic timing.

The other nominees were:
  • Monica Dolan - All About Eve
  • Cecilia Noble - Downstate
  • Rana Roy - Ink
  • Rosalind Eleazar - The Starry Messenger

Winning with 34% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play goes to...

Giles Terera in Rosmersholm as Andreas Kroll in the West End!


Giles Terera's portrayal of pompous conservative Governor Andreas Kroll was well and truly outstanding. The way in which he showed the character's pragmatism made for a really interesting juxtaposition with the show's leading character (portrayed by the spellbinding Hayley Atwell), who happened to be more of a romantic, and he was therefore able to conjure up a really unique dynamic onstage. It was an all-round excellent performance, and Terera is clearly a highly skilled actor. 

The other nominees were:
  • Mark Benton - Glengarry Glen Ross
  • K. Todd Freeman - Downstate
  • Francis Guinan - Downstate
  • Bertie Carvel - Ink

Winning with 40% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Play goes to...

All About Eve in the West End!


All About Eve was a theatrical event unlike anything I had previously encountered. It was extremely ambitious, with director Ivo van Hove attempting to combine film and theatre in one. Such an approach was extremely innovative, and I admired the show's creativity. The show also has a gripping story to it, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout. If this weren't enough, All About Eve also includes a number of remarkable performances (Gillian Anderson, Lily James and Monica Dolan were all fantastic, just to name a few), and features some really extraordinary music. It was an evening at the theatre that I am unlikely to forget. 

The other nominees were:
  • Downstate - West End
  • Betrayal - West End
  • Ink - Broadway
  • The Son - West End

Winning with 54% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical goes to...

David Hunter in Waitress as Dr. Pomatter in the West End!


When I saw Waitress in February 2019, it was David Hunter's portrayal of Dr. Pomatter that stole the show. It is a brilliant role to begin with, but he really took it to the next level. Hunter nailed the comedic part of the role, and had the audience in stitches throughout. His comic timing was well and truly impeccable. He also excelled at the more serious aspect of the character as well, giving a powerful rendition of 'You Matter To Me'. 

The other nominees were:
  • Andy Grotelueschen - Tootsie
  • John Behlmann - Tootsie
  • Erich Bergen - Waitress
  • Ephraim Sykes - Ain't Too Proud

Winning with 44% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to...

Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal as Robert in the West End!


Tom Hiddleston is an actor with many skills, and the role of Robert provided him with the perfect platform to showcase this. He too excelled at all aspects of the role, flawlessly executing both the humours aspects of the role as well as the more tragic elements. Hiddleston is gifted with a natural stage presence, and was utterly captivating to watch. Additionally, he had an electric chemistry with his talented co-stars, Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton.

The other nominees were:
  • Jonny Lee Miller - Ink
  • Michael Shannon - Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
  • Ian McKellen - Ian McKellen on Stage
  • Laurie Kynaston - The Son

Winning with 73% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical goes to...

Alex Brightman in Beetlejuice as the Titular Role on Broadway!


The idea to cast Alex Brightman as Beetlejuice was inspired; he was not someone that I would have necessarily imagined in this role, and yet he was utterly perfect for it. He is filled with charisma from head to toe, and was captivating to watch. In addition to this, Brightman is also naturally funny, and delivered jokes faultlessly. There can be no doubt that he gives it his all from beginning to end, and gives a remarkably dynamic performance with maximum energy throughout. It is noteworthy that this win has set the record for the highest percentage of votes for any Basic Theatre Award nominee ever, so congratulations to Mr. Brightman!

The other nominees were:
  • Kelsey Grammer - Man of La Mancha
  • Santino Fontana - Tootsie
  • Will Roland - Be More Chill
  • Derrick Baskin - Ain't Too Proud

Winning with 41% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical goes to...

Lauren Wared in Dear Evan Hansen as Cynthia Murphy in the West End!


Lauren Ward puts so much raw emotion into her portrayal of Cynthia Murphy, and it really does pay off. There is so much feeling and warmth in her performance, and she was very believable in the role of this grieving Mother. Her interpretation of the character had multiple layers to it, and she was definitely one of Dear Evan Hansen's high points. All in all, it was a genuine and very moving performance. 

The other nominees were:
  • Lilli Cooper - Tootsie
  • Sarah Stiles - Tootsie
  • Caitlin Houlahan - Waitress
  • Angie Schworer - The Prom

Winning with 32% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play goes to...

Lily James in All About Eve as Eve Harrington in the West End!


In the role of Eve Harrington, Lily James shone. She clearly evidenced Eve's rising ambition throughout the play, and cleverly showed the character's sudden mood swings. In particular, Eve's more volatile scenes proved to be rather gripping. James was particularly talented at showing the ways in which Eve changed and developed throughout the course of the play, and this made for fascinating viewing. 

The other nominees were:
  • Gillian Anderson - All About Eve
  • Zawe Ashton - Betrayal
  • Audra McDonald - Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
  • Hayley Atwell - Rosmersholm

Winning with 49% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical goes to...

Aimie Atkinson in Six as Katherine Howard in the West End!


Atkinson's extraordinary portrayal of Katherine Howard had an infectious energy to it like no other. It was an utterly enchanting performance, and she was transfixing to watch. Six is full of extraordinarily talented performers, and yet it was Atkinson that stole the show; this in itself is a major achievement. Atkinson is an especially gifted singer, and her rendition of 'All You Wanna Do' is astonishing. She is also a skilled dancer, making her a certified triple threat. 

The other nominees were:
  • Katharine McPhee - Waitress
  • Adrienne Warren - Tina
  • Sophia Anne Caruso - Beetlejuice
  • Beth Leavel - The Prom

Winning with 54% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Musical goes to...

Six in the West End!


Whilst inspired by real-life events, Six is an entirely new and original musical and is not based off of any prior source material; on this basis, the show deserves a lot of commendation. The concept behind it is ingenious, and it is arguably one of the best new British musicals in quite some time. The musical score is astonishing, and I have listened to the original cast recording a number of times; the songs are extremely well-written and prove to be rather catchy. In relation to creativity, the choreography, costume designs and orchestrations are all superlative, and the cast are sensational. 

The other nominees were:
  • Beetlejuice - Broadway
  • Tootsie - Broadway
  • The Prom - Broadway
  • Dear Evan Hansen - West End

Winning with 58% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Understudy goes to...


Vicki Manser in Six as Anna of Cleves in the West End!


The role of an understudy, swing or alternate is absolutely vital one, and therefore this award always tends to be one of my favourites to give out. Manser is very deserving of this title, and she gave a wonderful performance. She has a fantastic presence about her, and had a force of personality. She fully immersed herself in the role, and pulled out all the stops. In addition to this, Manser has an excellent singing voice, and delivered a memorable rendition of 'Get Down'. 

The other nominees were:
  • Josh Lamon - The Prom
  • Chris Bennett - Only Fools and Horses
  • Marcus Harman - Dear Evan Hansen
  • Mark Peachy - Dear Evan Hansen

And on that note, yet another Basic Theatre Awards season comes to a close. Congratulations to all of those that won, and once again thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. 

These results unfortunately come at a difficult time for the theatre industry, and these are proving to be rather uncertain times for each and everyone working in entertainment across the globe. Nevertheless, I am confident that the industry will bounce back in due course, and it is exceedingly important that we remain optimistic in these testing times. I wish everyone good health, and urge people to stay strong. We will fight this, and we will return stronger than ever before. 

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer