Friday, 30 December 2016

Review: The Screwtape Letters

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Screwtape Letters.
Originally, I wasn't too sure whether to go and see The Screwtape Letters. On the one hand, I was fascinated with the concept of the play after reading the synopsis. On the other hand, I wasn't too keen on the idea of travelling all the way to North London. I decided to keep it off my schedule and just keep it as a back-up. When booking for shows, one of them (Rent) was completely sold out. I decided to bite the bullet with the journey and went to see this production. I had very mixed thoughts about the play. The acting and creative aspects were wonderful, but there really isn't much to the play. I'll start with my negative thoughts and then finish with my positive thoughts, so that we can end the review on a high note! I am not convinced that this piece works as a stage adaption. I have not read the book by C.S. Lewis, but it is very apparent to me that there is little to make a whole stage play of. The show consists of the character Screwtape, one of the Devil's agents, writing letters to his nephew, whilst his assistant (who doesn't speak) writes it all down. The play does not tell us the nephew's response, which I think would have worked much better in this instance. Perhaps if the show had been only an hour this would've worked better, but and hour and a half of just letters grew a little tiresome. The play does very well on creative aspects, but it is let down structure wise. My only other critique is that I found certain parts difficult to follow, specifically the ending. Those who I'd recommend The Screwtape Letters for, are for those that are fans of the book, as for these people they would be able to understand everything and wouldn't worry about structure flaws. If you have plans to see it, I would advise reading the book first. Now onto the positives! I thought that Max McLean's portrayal of Screwtape was exceptional! He has an extremely hard task of keeping the audience engaged for such a long time, but he does a wonderful job. The play is an hour and a half, but thanks to his portrayal it didn't feel quite as long as it was. He truly embodies Screwtape from beginning to end, it's amazing that he had that much energy! His performance is the sole reason  why the show wasn't too bad and I would even go as far to say that a performance like that is worth the ticket price alone. Karen Eleanor Wight doesn't speak as Toadpipe, but manages to convey a character through physicality and noise. The fact she was able to convey a character without words shows me that Karen is a wonderful performer. I cannot say a bad word about these two actors. The set was simple, and yet extremely effective, with skulls on the back wall. The lighting and costume design are also perfect, in specifics, Toadpipe's costume was fantastic. With the set, lighting and costumes combined, it was able to perfectly display Hell.

The featured star of The Screwtape Letters is, drum roll please... MAX MCLEAN!

Max's performance was profoundly extraordinary. With his acting, he is even able to make the boring parts of the show interesting. I have read that Max has been doing the role since 2006 and this definitely comes across.

Now for my final verdict on The Screwtape Letters. I give The Screwtape Letters...

I give this rating because the show really does not have enough material and I'm not convinced that an adaption of the book works, the show however makes up for it with wonderful creativeness and the two leads are phenomenal. I really struggled with choosing between three and four stars here, but in the end decided to go with three. If I used half stars, this would be one of the times I would use it.

Think it should gave got a higher rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Dirty Dancing.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Review: This House

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of This House.
I was absolutely thrilled to be seeing This House, as it combined two things I  love, theatre and politics. I hope to someday work in either of these two fields, so seeing a play like this was wonderful. This House's strongest aspect is it's unmissable cast. They are a truly first-rate cast. The show has some weaker moments in terms of writing, but the cast were always able to carry it through. They really conveyed as to what politicians were like back in the 70's, and to be completely honest it doesn't seem like our politicians have changed that much. The way Conservative politicians are and the way Labour politicians are is portrayed extremely well. Stereotypical Conservatives are portrayed as being snobby and selfish and stereotypical Labour politicians are portrayed as being loud and foul mouthed. There was a clear divide between the two types of politicians, and once again, things haven't really changed. Cast members who stood out were (in alphabetical order); Phil Daniels as Bob Mellish, Kevin Doyle as Michael Cocks, Lauren O'Neil as Ann Taylor, Nathaniel Parker as Jack Weatherill, Steffan Rhodri as Walter Harrison and Malcom Sinclair as Humphrey Atkins. I cannot applaud this cast enough! I thought the set was very cleverly designed, it looked extremely accurate to the actual House of Commons (although being a little smaller). The costume and lighting design also greatly helped add to the effect of the show. I had not known about the minority government in the 70's, so it was excellent to be educated on this subject. I had wondered before why a majority is needed in the House of Commons, but this play has clearly highlighted certain issues for me and has expanded my politics knowledge. It has even deepened my love for politics a bit more. I did more research about the minority government and the vote of no confidence after the play and from what I read it sounds like the play was very true to life. The best part of the show is the last half an hour. In the last half an hour, the play builds up tension, has some really touching moments and has a very dramatic ending. This is when the play really shines. I wouldn't recommend this play to anyone who doesn't know nor cares about politics. I took my Mum to the show and she doesn't even vote, so as much as she loved the acting, she didn't understand the parliamentary system. For people like my Mum, who accompany friends or family but don't know much about politics, perhaps a 3 minutes video at the beginning of the play may have helped? I think this would have opened up the play to a wider audience. I felt that there were parts of the show which were weakly written, such as the beginning 20 minutes, where I wasn't sure who was who and what was going on. As I mentioned earlier though, the acting was able to carry the show through the weaker parts. The only other critique for the show I have is a nitpick, but I wasn't overly keen on the singing in the show. It just felt a little unnecessary, but this is not a major concern at all.

The featured star of This House is, drum roll please... MALCOM SINCLAIR!

Choosing featured star was extremely difficult. I made a shortlist of 4 of the actors and honestly, it would've been easier to pick straws. After much thought and consideration, I decided to choose Malcom for featured star. He was consistent throughout and gave a truly convincing portrayal as Humphrey Atkins. Furthermore, he played what a stereotypical Conservative politician acts like. He was missed whenever he was offstage and I am very glad he was cast in this role.

Now for my final verdict on This House. I give This House...

I give this rating because the show has an extremely strong cast and great creative aspects, and this makes up for the weaker parts of writing.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing The Screwtape Letters.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Review: Million Dollar Quartet

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Million Dollar Quartet.
When making plans for the Christmas and New Year theatre marathon, I wasn't sure whether to add this one in. I eventually decided to go with it, because an extra musical can never hurt. This show was so much fun, I had a blast! It's the kind of show where you leave the theatre walking on air. For the last 15 minutes of the show everyone is up on their feet, singing and dancing. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric. Million Dollar Quartet showcases a stunning group of performers, consisting of Martin Kemp as Sam Phillips, Ross William Wild as Elvis Presley, Matthew Wycliffe as Carl Perkins, Robbie Durham as Jonny Cash, Martin Kaye as Jerry Lee Lewis and Katie Ray as Dyanne. They can act, they can sing and they can play instruments, there's nothing this cast can't do! They made absolute magic onstage and there were no weak links. They all really connected with their character and seemed to be very natural onstage. I cannot speak highly enough of this cast, they are outstanding! The music was long before my time (I only recognised five of the songs), but this was a great introduction into all the old rock and roll music. My favourites were 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Fever', which were both excellently performed. The fact that the instruments were played live onstage added a lot to the excitement, it's so great to have a cast that are so multi-talented. The sound design was flawless, the chairs were vibrating from the sound which was another factor that helped to add to the rock and roll. The costumes and lighting were also perfect, I cannot fault either of these in any way. I thought the Royal Festival Hall was the ideal theatre for this show. I know that it'll be visiting smaller venues on its tour (which begins in February), so it'll be interesting to find out how different the show is, considering the Royal Festival Hall has a capacity of 2,900. The advantage to having a smaller theatre is that it would be more suitable for the set, which looked rather small on the large stage. A smaller audience will have to be extra loud to compensate! The only negative aspect of the show is that the storyline is a little weak, however a show such as this doesn't really need to have a strong storyline as it's more like attending a live concert. As nice as a more detailed story would be, the show was so much fun that I didn't worry about this too much.

The featured star of Million Dollar Quartet is, drum roll please... MARTIN KAYE!

Martin Kaye was awesome in the role of Jerry Lee Lewis. For me, Martin stole the entire show. His acting and singing is superb and his piano playing is out of this world. He even played the piano with his feet! I've never seen someone so talented on the piano, he is a delight to watch.

Now for my final verdict on Million Dollar Quartet. I give Million Dollar Quartet...

I give this rating because, even though the show didn't have the strongest storyline, it gives the audience the time of their lives and has an unmissable cast! If it is coming to a theatre near you and if you love a fun time out then I highly recommend this.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing This House.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Review: Cinderella

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Cinderella.
Since the age of 4, I have visited Richmond Theatre's pantomimes every single year and for the first time last year I visited Wimbledon Theatre's panto as well. This year I decided to change things up and I visited the London Palladium's panto of Cinderella. This is the best panto I have ever seen, I have truly never seen anything like it. It has mesmerising special effects and the most famous cast I have ever seen in one show, it puts on the panto of all panto's. Now that I've seen this, I don't think I can ever go back to one of Richmond's panto's. The show is just under three hours long, but the time flies by. There have been shows much shorter than this which have felt like an eternity. I actually hadn't even realised how long I'd been watching the show, every minute was a joy. The show is absolutely hilarious, I laughed my socks off! It's the funniest show I've seen since I saw Guys and Dolls with Rebel Wilson in July. The music is great and I have heard (don't quote me on this) that the majority of the music was written especially for the show. The costumes are fantastic and are most likely the best I have ever seen for a show. Specifically, Julian Clary's costumes were stunning! The sets were fairly simple, but worked well. I also thought the choreography was done well. Onto the subject everyone who sees the show is eager to see, the cast. Paul O'Grady plays the role of Baroness Hardup perfectly and brings terror to all the children in the theatre. What I liked about his performance, is that he was a really convincing female. It wasn't an overacted dame like most panto's are, it was more subtle, but still had the fun factor. I loved his ad-lib when a child started screaming and he shouted into the audience "Calpol that little brat before I do!". Julian Clary gives a stunning performance as Dandini, a performance which is the best pantomime performance I have ever seen. In the production of Cinderella I saw at Richmond last year, I found Dandini to be really annoying, but the character certainly wasn't annoying when played by Julian Clary. He is absolutely hilarious and steals the stage whenever he appears. I watched Amanda Holden a long time ago on Britain's Got Talent when I was younger, so it was great to see her live onstage in the role of The Fairy Godmother. I was surprised to find out she has a very good singing voice. Lee Mead and Natasha J. Barnes make an astounding pair as Prince Charming and Cinderella. They have good chemistry and both have lovely singing voices (which I wish we'd heard more of). Funnily enough, out of all the 'stars' in this show, I was most excited to see Natasha performing as I'd heard a lot about her performance in Funny Girl. Paul Zerdin was absolutely brilliant as Buttons and I adored his puppet Sam. Paul is clearly extremely talented and is a joy to watch. Last but not least, Nigel Havers as Lord Chamberlin was a lot funnier than I expected. The running gag of him wanting to be in scenes never tires and got funnier and funnier throughout. All of the above cast members are phenomenal, however I was not keen on the performances of Steve Delaney who played the character Count Arthur Strong playing Baron Hardup and Suzie Chard and Wendy Somerville as Verruca and Hernia. Steve Delaney/Count Arthur Strong/Baron Hardup was extremely awkward to watch and he just didn't fit in with the rest of the show whatsoever. This character may be funny elsewhere, but this was not the place for Count Arthur Strong. Suzie Chard and Wendy Somerville clearly did their best, but became heavily overshadowed and again felt out of place. I think casting 'names' in these roles would've worked better.

The featured star of Cinderella is, drum roll please... JULIAN CLARY!

This was a really tough decision to make between Julian Clary and Paul Zerdin, but in the end I decided to go with Julian. He was unbelievably funny, I would've even been satisfied if the whole show was just Julian. He was the glue that held the show together.

Now for my final verdict on Cinderella. I give Cinderella...

I give this rating because this is the best pantomime of all time, with everything needed to make the perfect panto. I cannot wait for the Palladium's next panto of Dick Whittington, it has a lot to live up to!

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Million Dollar Quartet.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Friday, 23 December 2016

Review: A Christmas Carol (Off West End)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of A Christmas Carol.
I've seen two other shows with the storyline of A Christmas Carol, one being the musical 'Scrooge' with Tommy Steele in 2012 and the other being a play adaption last year starring Jim Broadbent. I have also seen a few film adaptions, so I know the story rather well, which came in handy when seeing this production at the LOST theatre, as there were several issues which, if I had not known the story beforehand, would've caused me to not have much clue what was going on. This production has potential with some good qualities to it, but is let down by certain aspects of the show. I'll start with what I feel would improve the production and go on to the good aspects of this production. When I went on press night (20th December), the show seemed far from performance ready. There were several sound issues and actors forgetting their cues. These were the main issues of the show and with more rehearsals/previews these could've been fixed. It just didn't seem ready to be professionally performed in front of a live audience. The sounds issues made it very hard to understand certain dialogue and lyrics, but fortunately with my prior knowledge of the show I knew what was going on. As said in a few other reviews I have now read, the show has a very mixed ability cast, which makes things a little awkward to watch. My only other criticism would be that there were certain songs that went on for a little bit too long and could've been shortened. One example that comes to mind is the song 'Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball'. I genuinely think these issues can be changed and fixed and if this is done so, this would be a stunning production. Good points to the show include the lighting and stage projections. The stage projections were really innovative, not many shows use projections but they worked very well for this show. Cast members who stood out were Piers Granham as Scrooge, Richard Lounds as Marley, Joe Brown as Scrooge at 18 and Kyrana Shea as several roles. Piers Granham reminded me of Kelsey Grammar, who funnily enough played Scrooge in the TV adaption of this musical. He was missed a lot when he was off-stage (which isn't often) and I feel he carried the show from the beginning to the end. Joe Brown has such a lovely voice, whenever he was part of the ensemble he outshone all of his fellow cast members. I think he would do very well if he went for a singing career. Another highlight of the show is the wonderful tap dancing number at the end of act one, that was sublime!

The featured star of A Christmas Carol is, drum roll please... PIERS GARNHAM!

Piers delivers a great performance as Scrooge and is one of the shows saving graces. Scrooge's 'change of heart' is portrayed really well and thanks to Piers you can really see the difference in the character.

Now for my final verdict of A Christmas Carol. I give A Christmas Carol...

I give this rating because I did not feel the show was performance ready at all, it however has certain cast members, with superb lighting design and stage projections which save the show.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Cinderella.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Review: Love's Labour's Lost

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Love's Labour's Lost.
As some of you may have read in my review of Ragtime, starting with Love's Labour's Lost I am doing a theatre marathon over Christmas and New Year (I have 8 shows lined up!). I was originally planning to see Love's Labour's Lost in a few days and thought I had press tickets for Cymbeline yesterday, but it turns out Cymbeline was actually for the 17th so I went up to Love's Labour's Lost to get some day seats. What a show to kick off the marathon, this revival of the Shakespeare classic is done wonderfully! The show features a top-notch cast, they all have great chemistry with each other, they fitted in like pieces of a puzzle. They were all an absolute joy to watch! Cast members who stood out were Sam Alexander as the King of Navarre, Edward Bennett as Berowne, Lisa Dillon as Rosaline, Nick Haverson as Costard, John Hodgkinson as Don Armado, Tunji Kasim as Dumaine, Emma Manton as Jaquenetta, Peter McGovern as Moth and last but certainly not least, Leah Whitaker as the Princess of France. As soon as I walked into the theatre and saw the set design, it took my breath away. The detail that has been put into the set is truly amazing. I will be astonished if the set doesn't get an Olivier nomination. I love it when such detail is put in. The costume design was also really good and added a lot to the show. The show uses a lot of music, which surprised me, but it was a delight. Even more to my surprise, the music was played by a live orchestra! It was actually the most music I have ever seen for a non-musical. Nigel Hess has done wonders with scoring Shakespeare. The music gives this old Shakespeare play new life. It's so entertaining, I was laughing throughout. It is suitable for all ages and I think would be a good introduction to Shakespeare for younger ones without any knowledge of Shakespeare. For those like myself who struggle with Shakespearean language, I would advise looking up the synopsis of the play before seeing it. Love's Labour's Lost is the perfect thing to see for those looking for some light hearted fun around Christmas time, it's the perfect Christmas treat!

The featured star of Love's Labour's Lost is, drum roll please... EDWARD BENNETT!

Edward Bennett is the life and soul of the production. He steals the stage every time he enters, he's a star! He is immensely talented and this show would not be the same without him at all. It amazes me how he remembers all of those lines!

Now for my final verdict on Love's Labour's Lost. I give Love's Labour's Lost...

I give this rating because it is a fun and entertaining show, with a stellar cast, great music and wonderful creative aspects. It doesn't quite get my 5 star rating, but it is very close.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing A Christmas Carol.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Review: Ragtime

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Ragtime.
With nothing planned for my weekend (and not having been to the theatre in a while), I decided Saturday would be a great day for a matinee! I have a friend in America (@broadwaybobnyc) who adores Ragtime and with an Off-West End production playing, I just had to see if it was as good as Bob had told me. My thoughts after seeing Ragtime... what a show! Everything about it is perfect, I don't feel I can put into words how well everything is done (but I'm going to try!). The show takes the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions, a lot happens! With the wonderful acting, set and score, I was absolutely transported. I know this is going to sound like a cliché, but it genuinely felt like I was there in America during the 20th Century. The set is minimal and yet the show manages to create all of New York City with it, and it works tremendously. The costumes are also fantastic and add to the realistic effect, as did the lighting design. The cast are sublime; not only are they incredible actors and singers, but they play their own instruments! Anita Louise Combe as Mother is very natural in the role, she was ideal for the role. Her rendition "Back to Before" is lovely. Aka Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker Jr. has a voice full of soul and emotion. His character largely changes throughout the play and Aka has this down to a tee. He was also fantastic on the piano! I cannot praise Gary Tushaw as Tateh enough. Tateh, in my opinion, is the character in the show that has the largest journey and Gary, from facial expressions to movement, showed the struggles of Tateh. Jonathan Stewart adds to the long list of incredible performances in this show, as Younger Brother. I have seen Jonathan in Shrek as Pinocchio and in Guys and Dolls understudying as Sky Masterson. He is an extremely versatile actor, he always delivers, no matter what the role. Finally, Jennifer Saayeng, as Sarah, has a voice like no other. Her voice is beautiful, she was definitely the strongest singer in the cast.  I felt like I really understood the thought process of every single character and throughout the show I grew to care about all of the main characters. There are many plots to the show and it is interesting to see them all intertwine. The score is spectacular and I have been listening to the score non-stop since seeing the show. I can't get the tune of the 'Prologue' out of my head! I liked the messages given by the show, especially the themes of racial inequality. It was very sad what African-Americans had to put up with back then and I know it sadly still occasionally happens today. There is nothing whatsoever to fault the show, it is 10 times better than the majority of shows in the West End.

The featured star of Ragtime is, drum roll please... GARY TUSHAW!

Featured star was such a difficult choice as there are so many extraordinary performances in this show, but in the end I decided I had to give it to Gary. Because of his portrayal, I cared about Tateh more than any of the other characters. He is definitely one of the best leading actors in a musical I have seen this year.

Now for my final verdict on Ragtime. I give Ragtime...

I give this rating because it meets every requirement for the perfect production. Great cast, great score, great set, lighting and costumes, it has absolutely everything!

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be kicking off my London Christmas and New Year theatre marathon with Love's Labour's Lost.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review: Pride and Prejudice

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Pride and Prejudice.
Having seen Sense and Sensibility in New York this year and really enjoying it, I was very keen to see another play by Jane Austen. It was really interesting to see the similarities between the two shows, one of these being the ending felt exactly the same. There were times I even had some déjà vu. The shows best aspect is its stellar cast. Each and every one of the actors were brilliant, there was no weak link at all. All of them showed great depth to their characters, the cast is the backbone to this production. Cast members who stood out were Tafline Steen as Miss. Elizabeth Bennet, Benjamin Dilloway as Mr. Darcy, Matthew Kelly as Mr. Bennet, Felicity Montagu as Mrs. Bennet, Kirsty Rider as Miss. Caroline Bingley and Steven Meo as Mr. Collins. The cast work so well with each other, I cannot stress enough how well casted the show was. The show needs a lot from the actors, as they have to be good at both the comedy and dramatic aspects, but they nailed it all. The costumes and set were excellent, they were definitely West End worthy. The show featured a revolving set which was well-suited to the show. I was a big fan of the staging by director Deborah Bruce, it was the staging that truly helped transport us into the character's worlds. The music, composed by Lillian Henley was perfect and added to the charm of the show. As I've mentioned before, it can be very hit and miss with the touring shows that go to Richmond Theatre, but this was one of the hits. My one criticism for the show is that I felt that certain scenes were stretched out for a little too long and would've been very easy to shorten. It's important to not have too many stretched out scenes in a show like this, as a lot happens and it needs to keep the audience's attention throughout. I haven't been to the theatre that much in the past 3 months, due to being really busy with school work, so it was fantastic to have had the chance to catch this brilliant production.

The featured star of Pride and Prejudice is, drum roll please... TAFLINE STEEN!

Tafline is absolutely incredible as Miss. Elizabeth Bennet, she was born to play this part! She has every part needed for this role down to a tee. She is the glue that holds this production together. Tafline has a command of the stage, the focus is all on her whenever she enters. At the interval, I realised I recognised her from another show, so went to check in my programme and found out I had seen her on Broadway in King Charles III. She was great in that too!

Now for my final verdict on Pride and Prejudice. I give Pride and Prejudice...

I give this rating because it is a charming production with a stellar cast. It's only fault are its longer scenes, but that is not a huge worry.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Ragtime.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Review: School of Rock (West End)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of School of Rock.
Just want to start off by saying, sorry for the 2 week delay. I saw SoR during my half term and as soon as school started was busy, busy, busy again.
Almost a year ago (December 2015), I went to see School of Rock on Broadway and I loved, loved, loved it! I was pretty tired when I went along in America though, due to jet lag, so I was thrilled to be able to have the chance to see it again. I was intrigued to see how the show would do with an English cast and I am pleased to say the show is in great shape. I loved it! It's funny, it's heartwarming, it's clever, it's got everything to make a perfect show. After much speculation who would be playing the lead role of Dewey Finn, a few months ago it was confirmed that Alex Brightman would not be transferring with the show and instead David Fynn would be starring as Dewey. Alex was the star of the show in New York, so I was a little worried how the show would do without him. Well those worries soon went away, because David is phenomenal! Wow is the best way to describe his performance. He's really nailed everything about the part, the physicality, the singing, the humour. David is one of the best leading men in the West End right now and it's incredible to think he is onstage for almost all of 2 hours and a half. It's amazing someone has the energy to do all of that! In the role of Rosalie Mullins was understudy Rosanna Hyland. On Broadway the role was played by Sierra Boggess, who was ok but didn't give an especially good performance. Rosanna on the other hand is remarkable! She added a lot of depth into the character which was missing on B.Way. I found myself truly caring about the character. Her performance of 'Where Did The Rock Go' was an absolute showstopper and brought the house down. Preeya Kalidas was also great as Patty and just as good as her Broadway counterpart. Anyone who sees this performance is in for a real treat! As I said in my review in December, I adore the music from the show and it is one of my favourite Andrew Lloyd Webber scores. One more thing to add is that I really liked the lighting design. Onto the part everyone who I know who has seen the show in America wants to know about... the kids. The majority of the kids were great, especially the kid playing Zack (who could act, sing, dance and do an American accent). However they didn't quite match up to the American kids, due to some of them struggling with American accents and certain lines being rushed or stumbled upon. The problem is, in America there's only one child per role, but in England it's three per role so I completely understand it is extremely difficult to have kids who are triple-threats. One way to fix the accent problems is to take away the American aspect of the show? The show was still in previews when I saw it so it is understandable the kids are going to take time to warm to their roles. As I said, the majority of the kids are good and the others will soon get there.

The featured star of School of Rock is, drum roll please... DAVID FYNN!

I don't want to repeat myself too much, so I'll keep this nice and short. David is an absolute star and has managed to fill the big shoes left by Alex Brightman. He's put his stamp on the role and I commend him for that.

Now for my final verdict on School of Rock. I give School of Rock...

I give this rating because it's a fun and feel-good show for the whole family. With the recent depressing election news, this is just the show to cheer people up. 

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Monday, 3 October 2016

Review: No Man's Land

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of No Man's Land.
After doing No Man's Land on Broadway 3 years ago, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart have reunited to bring the play to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre. We have had this show booked for AGES, 6 and a half months to be precise. On the list of "Upcoming shows" it has had the company of Harry Potter, which I am seeing in January. But after months and months, the day finally came. What a privilege and honour to see two legends and giants of the stage onstage together. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart make a theatrical team like no other. Not even Hamilton co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. can beat them! They are a force not to be reckoned with, never have I seen such a stunning pair of actors. I'm not sure anyone can match them. Both are extremely strong actors and give unforgettable performances as Spooner (McKellen) and Hirst (Stewart). The show also stars Owen Teale as Briggs and Damien Molony as Foster. It is difficult in a show like this with two giants such as McKellen and Stewart, as other actors are likely to get overshadowed, but Teale and Molony hold their own and give very strong performances. I found the play to be hugely interesting, it is quite deep and thought provoking and it does challenge the audience. The four characters were fascinating, I would love to study the play at school as I think they are good characters to analyse. The play incorporates a lot of comedy, which was well done and had the audience in stitches. I thought the costumes and set were well designed, which are both done by Stephen Brimson Lewis. Constructive criticism I have about the show is that I feel the beginning scene should be cut or shortened, it just felt like it was too long and really dragged. The show picked up shortly after, but I think it would help the show to have a beginning which introduces the characters a little better. During act one I was a little confused and I must admit to having to search on Wikipedia for who was who and why they were at this house. As soon as I found this out, everything fell into place. For those who do struggle to understand certain plays, I would suggest looking up a brief synopsis of the show.

The featured star of No Man's Land is, drum roll please... PATRICK STEWART!

This is the hardest decision I have EVER had to make for featured star. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are just so good and so hard to choose a favourite. I even considered tossing a coin to decide who should get featured star out of these two! After much debating, I went with Patrick Stewart, as I feel he got to display more emotion with his character. 

Now for my final verdict on No Man's Land. I give No Man's Land...

I give this rating because even though the play gets confusing at times, the show features unmissable acting that cannot be faulted.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing School of Rock.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Review: Groundhog Day

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Groundhog Day.
I had been wanting to see this show for so, so, so long. I had seen Tim Minchin perform a song from the show on Youtube and had a feeling it was going to be a good one. By the time we actually decided to buy tickets though, it was sold out... fortunately they added an extra charity performance on after their scheduled closing night and we managed to get a return a week or so before seeing it! My thoughts? WOW, WOW and WOW! It is a well known fact that New York get a lot more musicals than we do. Well we finally have another one to compete with the Great White Way. The last stunning West End musical I can think of is Matilda, which funnily enough has the same creative team as Groundhog Day. Sadly New York are stealing this show from us, but I'll get to that later. A LOT of creativity has gone into this production, everything about it was done so cleverly. All aspects of the show are done to their best potential. The lighting, set, costumes and choreography are all perfection, the whole show is so intelligent! There are certain illusions in the show, which I won't spoil, and they just blew my mind. Kudos to Paul Kieve for organising those illusions, they left me flabbergasted. I love the storyline to bits, the audience are taken on such a roller-coaster of emotions during the show. One minute the audience are laughing, then gasping, then crying, then laughing again, so much happens! It took a while to stew in my brain, but the more and the more I thought about the show, the more and more I realised how brilliant it was. The main character, Phil, takes such a journey and I often found myself relating to him. I wondered endlessly after the show, what would I do if I were stuck in Groundhog Day? Maybe I could go and see this show over and over again? A few days ago I decided to order the movie and I will be very interested to see what the differences are. Andy Karl is a tour de force in the role of Phil Connors, he is beyond perfect for the part. He's got the charisma and charm, the comic timing, great singer and was good at the more serious aspects of the show. The producers of Groundhog Day were so lucky to get Andy, I cannot picture anyone else doing this part. If he doesn't win the Olivier for 'Best Actor', I will not be a happy bunny! Also really liked Carlyss Peer as Rita Hanson, she had a great voice and is very funny, she's so well cast. I also loved the ensemble. It was  great to see so much effort put into a show and it certainly paid off. You don't see as much effort going into London musicals usually. As I stated earlier, the show sadly ended it's limited run at the Old Vic, but will be heading to New York March 2017. I am sad that we will be losing this show (especially as they already have so many great musicals in New York), but I'm glad the show is doing so well for itself and I really hope to see it next time I visit New York. It's such a special show and there is nothing like it. I wish it all the best in the Big Apple! I'm keeping my fingers crossed a cast album will be released sooner, rather than later.

The featured star of Groundhog Day is, drum roll please... ANDY KARL!

I was so glad to catch Andy's performance, he is the perfect leading man and one of the best leading actors I have seen in a musical this year. I wish him all the best of luck in getting his Olivier and Tony awards!

Now for my final verdict on Groundhog Day. I give Groundhog Day...

I give this rating because there is nothing to fault from this show, it is all done to the highest degree. Every little detail is put into the show and I would happily see it again and again.

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing No Man's Land.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: The Dresser

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Dresser.
Huge apology for the big delay in getting this review posted. As I mentioned in my Kinky Boots review, school has started again and I have been unbelievably busy. I am slowly managing to get back on schedule and will be writing up my reviews of Groundhog Day and No Man's Land during this week, before my mind gets too foggy!
It had been a very long two weeks for me, what with school starting and all, so during that weekend (two weeks ago) we decided it was time for a theatre break. I was rather tired, so chose to see something local, as opposed to heading to the West End. We had a look what was on at Richmond Theatre and The Dresser was playing, doing an 'out of town try-out' tour before heading to the West End. I had extremely mixed feelings about the show. On the one hand, the acting is phenomenal and the creative aspects of the show are great. On the other hand, it is far too long and drags on a LOT. I'll start with the good aspects of the play and then go onto what could be improved. The acting was really good, including both leads and the supporting cast. The two leads are Ken Stott as Sir and Reece Shearsmith as Norman, both are strong actors. Sir is a very old actor, nearing death, and struggling severely with heath problems. Ken Stott portrays this exceptionally well and I was very moved by his performance, he really shows the struggles Sir has. Reece Shearsmith is amazing, he was the saving grace of the show. The only parts of the show I thoroughly enjoyed was when Reece was onstage, he was a star throughout, especially at the end of act two. He portrays Norman so convincingly, the producers were very lucky to get him onboard. I thought the revolving set was extremely well designed and I liked the costume and lighting designs as well. Now what could've been improved... Some scenes in the play felt like an eternity, they just went on for far too long. The show in total is 2 hours and 45 minutes, which drastically needs to be shortened. There are far too many unnecessary subplots. If I were directing the play, I would've cut it down to an hour and 45 minutes. This is more than enough time to get the main elements of the show in. I also think the show could add more comedic elements in, as all jokes seemed to be well received by the audience. To be fair on the show, this was an 'out of town tryout' and I really hope they attempt to edit the show, as because of the shows great actors, it has good potential.

The featured star of The Dresser is, drum roll please... REECE SHEARSMITH!

Reece was just so perfect for the part, he was a joy to watch whenever he was onstage and completely stole the show. I can't praise his performance enough, as I stated, he was the saving grace!

Now for my final verdict on The Dresser. I give The Dresser...

I give this rating because it simply is just too long and needs to drastically shortened, but there are a lot of redeeming qualities that do, at the end of the day, make the show enjoyable.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Review: Kinky Boots (Sep 2016)

Hey readers!
It's time for my updated review of Kinky Boots.
Just want to start off with a huge apology for the two week delay in writing this review. School has started again so I'm busy, busy busy! But without further ado, here it finally is...
August 2015... a new show called 'Kinky Boots' had just started previews in the West End. The show had made it's way from the Big Apple after winning the Tony Award for best musical. I am usually very interested to see Tony (or Olivier) winning shows, so I went along. I was completely blown away, everything about the show was stunning. It even made it's way into my top 10 shows of all time (number 7 on the list). Now September 2016... the show has had an amazing year! It has been really well received by the British audiences, won several Olivier Awards and has done very well at the box office. The show recently had a cast change so I went back to see it. Funnily enough, only 2 of the 7 principal cast members stayed and those two (Matt Henry and Michael Hobbs) were both out and had understudies playing those roles. It was just so great to see it again, I can't express how much I love this show. It is my favourite show in the West End at the moment. I thought, for this 'comparison' review, I'd go through the main cast members and compare their performances to their predecessors. First of all I'll start with David Hunter as Charlie Price. I was a little bit worried about anyone taking over this role as Killian Donnelly was such a tour de force in the role. My worries were soon swept aside as David is phenomenal! Killian is so hard to beat, but David nails the role. He has an incredible voice, his rendition of 'Soul of a Man' even made Mum cry! ;) He's such a good actor too, the show seems to be doing well at casting their Charlie's. It was interesting to compare the differences between David and Killian, I think Charlie is such a great part to play. Onto Arun Blair-Mangat who was understudying as Lola in the place of Matt Henry, who I had seen previously in September. WOW. Arun's performance is out of this world, I say this in almost every review, but here it is again... understudies are so incredible and yet so under appreciated. If I dare say it, I even thought Arun was slightly better than Matt Henry (not by much, but slightly has the edge). I just thought that Arun had such a command of the stage, he was such a personality, he would always steal the show whenever he was onstage. His version of 'Not My Father's Son' was absolutely heart wrenching, I cannot say enough good things about his performance. WOW WOW WOW! I feel like we need an understudy appreciation day, after all, this has been a great year for understudies, what with Ria Jones in Sunset Boulevard and Natasha Barnes in Funny Girl. Elena Skye, who is making her West End debut, is great as Lauren. She had some big shoes to fill, having replaced Olivier Award winner Amy Lennox, but she is already brilliant and I am sure she will get even better as time goes on. I also really liked Alan Medhizadeh as Don and the new angels are excellent, they're such stunning dancers! The show is in fantastic shape, the new cast are excellent and really do the show justice. To reiterate what I said in my previous review; the songs are brilliant. I cannot fault the music in any way, it really is THAT good. If I had to choose, my two favourites are 'Soul of a Man' and 'Hold Me in Your Heart', which are also excellently performed. The choreography is really good, as is the lighting and set. I am a big fan of the costumes, which deservedly won an Olivier Award. The only negative I have for the show and I hate to be so picky, but during the opening number, the child playing Young Lola really seemed to struggle with the song and it sounded really out of tune. To be fair, the cast are relatively new and I am sure over time the child actors will ease into it. This is not a major concern as Young Lola only appears doing this number. Apart from that, I was smiling throughout, I did not want it to end!

The featured star of Kinky Boots is, drum roll please... ARUN BLAIR-MANGAT!

I'd love it if Arun were to be cast full time in the role, he is so, so, so good! I cannot praise his performance enough, this is a performance definitely worth seeing. 

Now for my final verdict on Kinky Boots. I give Kinky Boots...

I give this rating because the show is utter perfection. I love it so much and I can't wait to see it again. It delivers such a powerful message and one that should never be forgotten... Just be, who you want to be! Never let them tell you who you ought to be!

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing The Dresser.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Review: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
I have been waiting to see Beautiful for months and months. It has been sitting on my wish-list for ages and we always planned to go, but just never got around to it. Finally a few months ago we decided to book Beautiful and I got a free ticket for 'Kids Week'! Finally last night (August 31st) we FINALLY went! I would like to start off by saying how amazing Cassidy Janson is as Carole King, her voice is outstanding! I'm not really familiar with Carole King, but I have been told that Cassidy sounds extremely similar to Carole. She was perfectly cast in this role. Other cast members who stood out were Matt Nalton who was understudying as Gerry Goffin, Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil, Ian McIntosh as Barry Mann and Gary Trainor as Donnie Kirshner. I thought Matt did an exceptional job, and if I had not found out before the show I would not have had a clue he was an understudy. Yet another phenomenal understudy! He was perfect for the part. Funnily enough I had seen Matt in Jersey Boys over a year ago, which I didn't realise until I checked my programme. I love all the songs, they're all so great to listen to. Personal favourites were 'On Broadway' (which was the only song I knew of), 'One Fine Day' and the title song: 'Beautiful'. All of the songs were excellently carried out by an excellent ensemble! I thought the set, costumes and lighting design were all really good and massively helped the audience to be transported to the 1950's. There are some sad parts to the show, but most of it is really fun and so enjoyable to sit through. Now for my criticism of the show... most of the show is really good, but I think the pace of the show really could be slowed down. I definitely think they could have focused on her childhood a bit more. In one scene when she's 16 she meets the guy at university and in the next scene she's pregnant and they're planning to get married. The audience aren't told how many years have gone past and that was something that left me a bit confused. A lot of songs are crammed into the show, so maybe two or three could've been taken out to focus on the story a bit more.

The featured star of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is, drum roll please... CASSIDY JANSON!

Cassidy is so perfect for this part, she was born to play the role! Her voice is sublime, I'd love to see her in another role and see how she does. She was also a great actress and did a good New York accent.

Now for my final verdict on Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I give Beautiful: The Carole King Musical...

I give this rating because the show's lead is amazing, it features some great songs and it's really enjoyable, but it could just do with some tweaking to the way it's structured. 

Think it would have got a higher rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Kinky Boots.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: The Bodyguard

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Bodyguard.
I saw The Bodyguard exactly (give or take a few days) two years ago, on it's closing night at the Adelphi Theatre, after it had just finished a two year run. It is now back in the West End for a limited run in the Dominion Theatre and the show is in great shape! I'm over the moon that I was able to go again as it is such a phenomenal show. Despite knowing the story well from last time, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire show. I don't know why, because I knew what was going to happen, but I was even getting goosebumps! It's such a good storyline, I loved every second! At the performance I was at Beverley Knight was absent and in her place was Carole Stennett in the role of Rachel Marron. She was utterly brilliant! I've said it 100 times before and I'll say it again, understudies are the best! I always really love seeing an understudy, I always know they'll give the performance 110%. Just because someone is an understudy doesn't mean they are any less good than the full-time performer (in most cases they are even better), but sometimes it is just down to being in the right place at the right time that can lead to someone getting the role full-time. Carole is perfection in this role, really good acting, phenomenal voice and a great dancer, the perfect leading lady! If I dare say it, I thought she was even better than Alexandra Burke, who I saw in the role when I first saw the show. Other cast members who stood out were Ben Richards as Frank Farmer, Rachel John as Nicki Marron and Matthew Stathers as The Stalker. All the cast were exceptional, there was not one weak link! They are also assisted by a brilliant orchestra. The music is amazing, I love every single song in the show. 'I Will Always Love You' was a real stunner and excellently sung by Carole Stennet. The show features some top-notch choreographer and I think it is very well directed. The more 'frightening' scenes are done perfectly. The lighting and set design is also very impressive. Rachel John has a really powerful and stunning voice and if she isn't cast as Angelica in Hamilton when the show comes to London I will not be a happy reviewer! ;) I seriously cannot fault anything with this show, every bit of it is perfect! Sadly the show is only having a limited run, which I find a real shame as it deserves to run and run!

The featured star of The Bodyguard is, drum roll please... CAROLE STENNETT!

Carole is incredible, she really deserves to be playing the role full time! Carole is yet another understudy who gives a performance of perfection, she is amazing in the role!

Now for my final verdict on The Bodyguard. I give The Bodyguard...

I give this rating because I think the show is perfect in every way, people need to run to the box office before this shuts again!

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Review: The Color Purple

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Color Purple.
Ever since seeing The Color Purple's performance at the Tony's I have been wanting to see this show so badly. For my last day in New York, I thought  this would be a good show to end on. The show had a lot to live up to, having won two Tony Awards and a lot of people I've met raving about it. The show stars English actress and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo as Celie, who I saw over two years ago in a show called I Can't Sing: The X Factor Musical. I Can't Sing closed after 6 weeks, but it's so great to see how far Cynthia has come since that show. I'm not even sure if words can describe how good her performance is. Her voice is extraordinary, I don't think I have heard one similar. I have been listening to the cast album non stop, she is amazing on it! She is definitely one of the best singers on Broadway at the moment. Her solo 'I'm Here' brought the house down and she actually received a standing ovation after the song (which is quite rare). The show follows such a heartbreaking and moving story, I loved every second of it. It was very well written, I was transfixed and I even shed a tear or two. A new addition to the cast is Heather Headley as Shug Avery, who also has such a stunning voice. Heather and Cynthia do a duet during act one called 'What About Love' which is beautiful. Their voices work so well with each other, that song was perfection. Heather was also stunning during her number 'Push Da Button' which is another song that amazes the audience. I also loved Danielle Brooks in the role of Sofia, she was perfectly cast in that role, she was hilarious! The score is wonderful, each number is written perfectly. As I said, I have been listening to the cast album non-stop and have decided that my favourite songs are 'Big Dog', 'Push Da Button' and 'I'm Here', but that was a really tough choice. The orchestra were also amazing and I thought the lighting design was great. I'd also like to say a few words about Isaiah Johnson as Mister, because I thought he was also excellent. Even though the character does some really horrible things, you can't help but feel sorry for him during 'Celie's Curse' and this is due to Isaiah's great performance. The only criticism for the show I have, it it's set design, which I really was not a fan of. I think I may be missing something with it, I wondered if it might have some hidden meaning, but I just didn't get it and felt it could've been more creative.

The featured star of The Color Purple is, drum roll please... CYNTHIA ERIVO!

Cynthia's voice is out of this world, her performance is spectacular. I cannot stop raving about her, she gives such a powerful performance and one that the audience can really connect with. I can't wait to see what Cynthia has planned for her next role!

Now for my final verdict on The Color Purple. I give The Color Purple...

I give this rating because the show has such amazing performance and not ones I will be forgetting anytime soon. This is a must see and I hope that you will be as moved as I was.

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Sadly that is the end of my New York reviews. I have been back in London for a week now, but I cannot wait to get back to the Big Apple as I think the shows there are spectacular! Join me next time when I will be reviewing The Bodyguard.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Friday, 19 August 2016

Review: Cagney

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Cagney.
As I said in my Sense and Sensibility review, there really isn't much on Broadway at the moment so during my NY theatre marathon I decided to see what shows were Off-Broadway. I asked an American friend (shoutout to Broadway Bob!) if there were any new good shows Off-B.Way at the moment and he said that he had heard good word of mouth about Cagney, so off to Cagney we went. The show has a great trailer, so I was really excited and curious as to what this show would be like. The show features a lot of tap-dancing, all of which astonishing! It was well choreographed and the cast were fantastic tappers (is that even a word?), all of the tap was perfect. I used to go to a theatre school, where I learnt tap dancing and the show really made me want to take it up again. I left the theatre inspired! The show features a cast of 6, including Robert Creighton as James Cagney, with Jeremy Benton, Danette Holden, Bruce Sabeth, Josh Walden and Ellen Zolezzi all playing several roles. I thought Robert Creighton was remarkable! He was so perfect for the role, amazing at acting, singing and dancing. He wrote the music and the lyrics for the show, which I loved as he seemed to have such a connection with the character, which reminded me of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton. The rest of the cast were also brilliant, they all worked really well together. Sometimes actors playing several roles at at time can be difficult, but I felt Cagney handled it very well and differentiated the characters perfectly. I think the music was really well written and I was informed at stage door that they are doing a cast album. I cannot wait for this to be released, I really hope it will be coming out sooner than later (and that it'll be available to those of us in the UK). I found Cageny's life to be such an interesting story to follow, it's so great to see how he rose from a son of an Irish immigrant struggling with his Mum to pay the bills to a big Hollywood star. I didn't have any prior knowledge about James Cagney before seeing the show, but I would love to see one of his movies now. I think this production could do very well if it toured, especially if it toured in the UK ;)

The featured star of Cagney is, drum roll please... ROBERT CREIGHTON!

Robert is the perfect leading man and gave a Broadway quality performance. He was perfect for this role in every way and I am so happy he got nominated for a Drama Desk Award because he really deserved it!

Now for my final verdict on Cagney. I give Cagney...

I give this rating because the show has a great cast, with lovely songs and a good storyline. It doesn't quite get 5 stars, but it is very, very close!

Think it should have got a higher rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer