Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Guys and Dolls (March 2016)

Hey readers!
It's time for my updated review of Guys and Dolls.
I saw this show back in December and it was good, but needed a lot of work. I came back for a second time because the cast has changed and among the cast is Richard Kind, who performed as Bing Bong in the movie Inside Out, and Samantha Spiro, who recently won a Basic Theatre Award. The main problems with the production when I last saw it were: diction, lighting, all scenes taking place in the Hot Box and I wasn't the biggest fan of Sophie Thompson. I can gladly say all these problems have been fixed and the show is now stunning! Diction is no longer a problem and I could hear all the actors very clearly, lighting is really good now; especially during the underground scene in act two, all the scenes in the Hot Box are now really fun and lastly Sophie Thompson has left and has been replaced by the stunning Samantha Spiro. The actors really gave it their all and this certainly paid off. The orchestra were really good and the choreography was just as good as it was at the Savoy Theatre. There are some really talented dancers in the ensemble. The new cast were far superior than the old cast. Richard Kind is better than David Haig and I feel this is because I found him funnier. I was laughing at him throughout, but I may be a bit biased because I loved his voice as Bing Bong in the movie Inside Out! David Haig was still very good. Samantha Spiro is a 100 times better than Sophie Thompson, there's no comparison between the two. Samantha gives a hilarious performance and doesn't put on the annoying voice Sophie puts on. Sophie seemed to be trying very hard where as Samantha is just naturally funny. It's very hard to choose between Jamie Parker and Oliver Tompsett, because I really did think Jamie gave a mesmerising performance, but I would have to choose Oliver. Oliver has a voice that I could listen to for hours and it resembles Michael Buble. This decision is based on Oliver's voice and he is one of the best voices I have heard in a while. This cast all seem to gel really well together, especially Richard and Samantha, and Oliver and Siubhan. Cast members who stood out for me were Richard Kind as Nathan Detroit, Samantha Spiro as Miss. Adelaide, Oliver Tompsett as Sky Masterson, Siubhan Harrison as Sarah Brown, Gavin Spokes as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Jason Pennycooke as Benny Southstreet. I thought Siubhan was really good last time, but this time she gave a stunning performance! God knows how she wasn't given an Olivier award nomination. The show was a lot funnier than last time and I loved the Havana scene. Best wishes to Cornelius Clarke, who hit his head on a trap door during the show, and kudos to his understudy Giovanni Spano for stepping in. The scene where Nicely Nicely Johnson sung 'Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat' was spectacular! Gavin Spokes and Jason Pennycooke were well matched and I thought they made a great team.

The featured star of Guys and Dolls is, drum roll please... SAMANTHA SPIRO!

Samantha was utterly hilarious in this role and was perfectly casted! One thing that I didn't realise before, is that she is a great singer!

Now for my final verdict on Guys and Dolls. I give Guys and Dolls...

Guys and Dolls has gone up a star and it sure deserves it! To those who have already seen the show, I recommend going back to see this great cast as they are incredible!

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

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Hobson's Choice.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Basic Theatre Awards Results 2015/2016

Hey readers!

After 4 weeks of voting and two weeks of waiting it is finally time to announce the results for the Basic Theatre Awards! On the final day of voting, voters entered into triple digits and I thank all who took the time to support their favourite actors and productions. I am sure the winners are very grateful for all the support you have given them. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to these awards so I am sure we will see them return next year! Without further ado, here are the results:

Winning with 33% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Understudy goes to...

Derek Hagen in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the West End as Willy Wonka!

I have seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 5 times, but I have never seen a Willy Wonka like Derek Hagen's. He can act, he can sing, he can dance, he gives a truly magical performance! I have said this before and I will say it again, I am absolutely astounded that he has not been cast full time! It is obvious the public agree with me that how perfect he is in the role.

The other nominees were
  • Jackie Burns-If/Then
  • Angel Reda-Chicago
  • Kaley Ann Voorhees-The Phantom of the Opera
  • Shona White-Mamma Mia

Winning with 22% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play goes to...

Samantha Spiro in A Christmas Carol on the West End as Mrs. Lack, Lavinia Bentham, Mrs. Grimes, Fran, Isabella, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Maid!

This category was very close with voting and could've got any way but in the end Samantha's great acting managed to take the award. Samantha is amazing in everything she does! I saw her in Di and Viv and Rose earlier in the year where she was, once again, brilliant! In A Christmas Carol she showed a very strong versatility and was perfectly casted. She will be in Guys and Dolls later this month which I hope to see as I know she will once again be incredible.

The other nominees were
  • Lindsay Duncan-A Delicate Balance
  • Susannah Allman-In the Dead of Night
  • Kate O'Flynn-The Trial
  • Amelia Bullmore-A Christmas Carol

Winning with 25% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play goes to...

Keir Charles in A Christmas Carol on the West End as Frederick, Mr. Grimes, Mr. Fezziwig, George and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come!

In some cases, when opposite Academy Award winners, actors tend to fade into the background, but not Keir Charles! Keir, like his co-star Samantha, is also very versatile! In A Christmas Carol he has to play several very different roles and he is extremely good at it. He also had great comic timing! If A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder transfers to the West End he would be perfect as The D'Ysquith Family!

The other nominees were 
  • Ross Harper Millar-In the Dead of Night
  • John Simm-Three Days in the Country
  • Oliver Chris-King Charles III
  • Richard Goulding-King Charles III

Winning with 44% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical goes to...

Gavin Lee in Les Misérables on Broadway as Thénardier!

Gavin Lee gives such a unique interpretation as Thénardier and has impeccable comic timing. After he's finished with Les Misérables, Gavin is heading onto Spongebob the Musical! Hopefully after this he will come back to England and show the rest of the UK how stunning he is in Les Misérables. A few years ago I saw him in Top Hat as Jerry Travers which he was also phenomenal in, he is a star! 

The other nominees were
  • Brad Oscar-Something Rotten
  • Daveed Diggs-Hamilton
  • Anthony Ramos-Hamilton
  • Jonathan Groff-Hamilton

Winning with 32% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Musical goes to...

Hamilton on Broadway!

This is an absolutely groundbreaking musical! Performances, music, lighting, directing, choreography, costumes, it's all just breathtaking! With 7 other Basic Theatre Award nominations, it was bound to win something! This is my favourite all time musical, I am not sure anything could ever top it! I don't think words could express how amazing I think this musical is. There is more chance of a pig flying than Hamilton not winning the Tony award for Best New Musical!

The other nominees were
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels-West End
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street-London
  • Something Rotten-Broadway
  • Finding Neverland-Broadway

Winning with 52% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Play goes to...

War Horse on the West End!

Today, on the 12th March, War Horse will sadly play it's final performance in the West End. I am absolutely devastated this is closing, I really hope this isn't the last time we hear of this spectacular play! What stands out for me with this show is the puppetry, it's sensational! There is no show like this, all of this play is complete and utter genius!

The other nominees were
  • The Ruling Class-West End
  • In the Dead of Night-Fringe
  • The Spoils-Off Broadway
  • Romeo and Juliet-UK Tour

Winning with 47% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical goes to...

Jodie Prenger in Annie on the UK Tour as Miss. Hannigan!

I have seen Jodie in Oliver, Calamity Jane and Annie and every time she has been incredible! Jodie has a fantastic stage presence and brings a lot of energy onto the stage. Every time I have seen her perform she has been a joy to watch! She is doing a one-woman show at the moment touring the UK which I encourage people to see so they can witness Jodie's great acting skill!

The other nominees were
  • Josefina Gabrielle-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Kate Reinders-Something Rotten
  • Renée Elise Goldsberry-Hamilton
  • Cristin Milioti-Lazarus

Winning with 42%, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to...

James McAvoy in The Ruling Class on the West End as Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney!

James is in a class of his own, he gives a remarkable and unforgettable performance! Personally, I feel he gave the best performance of the year! I'm not sure if words could describe his stunning performance! I am really happy my voters agreed with me as he truly deserves this award. Hopefully he'll return to the theatre sometime during 2016!

The other nominees were
  • Jesse Eisenberg-The Spoils
  • Rory Kinnear-The Trial
  • Tim Pigott-Smith-King Charles III
  • Kenneth Branagh-Harlequinade

Winning with 59%, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play goes to...

Helen Mirren in The Audience on Broadway as Queen Elizabeth II

Helen's portrayal of the Queen is remarkable. In The Audience she mastered the role perfectly and could not be faulted in any way whatsoever. Helen is so professional onstage and is very versatile. She is so multi-talented and it was such a delight to see her live. I am pleased she received this award as she is very deserving.

The other nominees were
  • Ruth Wilson-Constellations
  • Anne Hathaway-Grounded
  • Niamh Cusack-Ticking
  • Laurie Metcalf-Misery

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

Imelda Staunton in Gypsy on the West End as Momma Rose!

Imelda's performance was a tour de force! She has such a presence when she is onstage, nothing could outshine her, not even a bright light! I always knew Imelda was a fantastic actress, but I never knew she could sing like that! I could even hear her from the very back of the dress circle! She is a true star!

The other nominees were
  • Carly Hughes-Chicago
  • Emma Thomson-Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Lily Frazer-In the Heights
  • Phillipa Soo-Hamilton

Winning with 46% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical goes to...

Glenn Carter in Jesus Christ Superstar on the UK Tour as Jesus Christ!

Glenn gives an astounding performance and puts so much emotion into the role, especially during the crucifixion scene. He has such a powerful voice that will raise the roof in any theatre! I am really keen to see him in the theatre again soon! He has been doing this role for 20 years now so I am happy he has received this award.

The other nominees were
  • Jefferson Mays-A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
  • Killian Donnelly-Kinky Boots
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda-Hamilton
  • Leslie Odom Jr.-Hamilton
And that wraps things up! Once again thanks to all who voted and lets hope 2016 is another great year for theatre!

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: Taking An Age

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Taking An Age.
Taking An Age is a new play by the masterminds behind The Old Friend. When I read the synopsis I wasn't 100% convinced, however I am happy to say this show was even better than The Old Friend. Ethan Taylor, the writer of both shows, is a mastermind. His writing never fails to be clever and intriguing. His plays are very intellectually challenging and far better than a lot of plays on West End and Broadway. Honestly, I think this production suits this theatre and doesn't necessarily need a transfer. I feel this is a production that needs a small and intimate theatre so you can be transported to their world. Some problems with big theatres nowadays is that if you are towards the back of the theatre it is hard to be transported. It would still do very well if it did transfer. The show is a really emotional roller-coast and it managed to succeed in reducing my Mum to tears. Taking An Age follows the journey of six friends discovering what it is to grow up as they spend their final Summer together. On the verge of adulthood, some invite change freely into their lives, others resent the idea. How far will some go to hold onto an age? The storyline was very, very clever. The cast of this production were really well casted. They all gelled well together. The cast featured Hannah Morley as Katie, Rebecca Marklynn as Izzi, Simon Stallard as Paul, Joe Parker as Adam, Grace Stone as Rose and Lewis Clarke as Josh. The show lasted an hour and even though this may seem short I thought it was a good length. The show is very well directed by Josh Bromley and the lighting design is phenomenal! There is one scene where a fight breaks out and the lighting during that scene is stunning. There is background music involved during some scenes which is a nice addition.

The featured star of Taking An Age is, drum roll please... REBECCA MARKLYNN!

Rebecca was phenomenal in this role! She shows a strong versatility and was great in the final scene. I hope to see her in more Who Said Theatre productions.

Now for my final verdict on Taking An Age. I give Taking An Age...

Who Said Theatre's productions keep getting better and better! I can't wait for the next production and I am sure it will be another masterpiece.

Join me next time when I will be announcing the Basic Theatre Award results.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Review: 42nd Street

Hey  readers!
It's time for my review of 42nd Street.
This production of the old classic 42nd Street was playing at my local theatre (Richmond Theatre) and I knew it would be a bit old fashioned but I was still looking forward to it. I think it would be fair to say I wasn't very impressed. The acting was very poor , I haven't seen acting like that in a while. The cast attempted to put on American accents and crashed and burned. I always try to be as kind as possible in my reviews, but when you see shows like this it can be extremely difficult. The singing wasn't really up to scratch either. After act one I looked in my programme and saw it was an amateur production. Some people may think I may be being too harsh on an amateur production, however they are not charging amateur prices. The ticket prices go up to £30, you can see a West End show for less! If an amateur production charges £10 and they call themselves amateur that is fair enough, but it is not right to call yourself an amateur production and charge that money! I have been going off Richmond Theatre more and more recently and I think I may stop going soon. I'm sure for people who haven't experienced much or any theatre this will be a nice experience to introduce them to the world of theatre. I've probably become a bit of a theatre snob, but that's what happens when you are blessed to see such productions as Hamilton and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Anyways, enough negatives, there were a few positives about this show! Cast members who were good were Jamie Chidzey as Billy Lawlor and Kerry Sampson as Dorothy Brock. Jamie was a really talented dancer and Kerry had a lovely voice. The orchestra were great, a lot of the dancing was really good and the music was enjoyable.

The featured star of 42nd Street is, drum roll please... JAMIE CHIDZEY!

Jamie is a really talented dancer and had quite a nice voice. His acting was a little weak, but if he takes some lessons he could easily be in a West End production.

Now for my final verdict on 42nd Street. I give 42nd Street...

I really hate writing bad reviews and there are not many shows that I don't like. As I said, it may be a nice experience for those who don't experience theatre much to ease them into the wonderful world of theatre! I could've gone into major detail about every little thing that I didn't like, but I didn't want to be too harsh! 

Join me next time when I will be reviewing Taking an Age.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Review: The Master Builder

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Master Builder.
I had tried to see Ralph Fiennes last year in Man and Superman, but sadly left it too late and before I knew it the show was sold out. Luckily Ralph is currently starring in an adaption of The Master Builder which I was fortunate enough to see. When I read the synopsis I wasn't 100% sure if I would like to see this show, however I am really glad I saw it as this is a very good play. It had a very clever storyline, one that really made you think. Here's the synopsis: Halvard Solness, a master architect, has spent his lifetime building the tallest spires in the land. But when Hilde, a radiant country girl, descends unexpectedly into his world, age is confronted by youth, and a series of revelations builds to a vertiginous climax. It really tested you intellectually, you had to pay attention to every line. The cast were all really good, but cast members who stood out for me were Ralph Fiennes as Halvard Solness, Sarah Snook as Hilda Wangel and James Dreyfus as Doctor Herdal. Ralph Fiennes showed so much emotion and played the role so convincingly, Sarah Snook showed a strong versatility and James Dreyfus had a great stage presence. The lighting, set and sound effects were all incredible. The ending is absolutely stunning and is probably my favourite part of the show! The way it was staged was astonishing, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I'll tell you that you will be blown away! I felt James Dreyfus was badly underused, he had a big role in act one, didn't appear in act two and had a small part in act three. He was so good in act one and it was a shame that he wasn't onstage more. I don't feel the show needed to be split into three parts, I think they could've made act three a bit longer with parts of act two. Act two can drag on as it is mainly dialogue between Halvard and Hilda.

The featured star of The Master Builder is, drum roll please... RALPH FIENNES!

Ralph puts so much emotion in, he is truly a stunning actor and it is one of the best performances I have seen in a few months.

Now for my final verdict. I give The Master Builder...

The Master Builder isn't on for much longer so don't miss your chance to see Ralph Fiennes in this amazing show!

Join me next time when I will be reviewing 42nd Street

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Review: Chicago (UK Tour)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Chicago.
When it was announced that Celebrity Big Brother finalist John Partridge and X Factor winner Sam Bailey were touring round the UK in Chicago, having seen it twice in New York, I jumped out of my seat! I'd read mixed reviews, but I can say with 100% certainty that this production was better than New York. It was funnier, the dancing was better and the staging was better. This production seemed to have a spark that the Broadway production didn't have. The Broadway show was still incredible, but this has the edge. The ensemble were stunning, each and every one of them were extraordinary dancers! The costumes, lighting and choreography were all remarkable. The orchestra were live onstage and they were also stunning. Cast members who stood out for me were Haley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart, who had perfect comic timing, Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma Kelly, who was absolutely flawless in everything she did, John Partridge as Billy Flynn, who had a great stage presence, Sam Bailey as Matron "Mama" Morton, who had a powerful voice that brought the roof down and A.D. Richardson as Mary Sunshine, who also had a powerful voice. The cast gelled together really well. Comparing the cast to the two different casts I saw on Broadway, Haley Tamaddon was just as good as Jennifer Nettles, but not quite as good as my favourite Angel Reda as Roxie Hart. Sophie Carmen-Jones wasn't quite as good as Carly Hughes, for me no one can beat Carly, but was 100 times better than Amra-Faye Wright in the role of Velma Kelly. John Partridge was just as good as Alexander Gemignani and John Dossett in the role of Billy Flynn. Neil Ditt sadly wasn't as good as Raymond Bokhour as Amos Hart. Sam Bailey was just as good as NaTasha Yvette Williams as Matron "Mama" Morton and finally A.D. Richardson was even better than M. Deming and just as good as R. Lowe playing Mary Sunshine. Some criticism I have for the show is that Haley's singing was a little weak, but as her acting was so superb it didn't really matter, Neil Ditt didn't seem pathetic enough as Amos Hart and the American accents really need working on as there were a few accents that kept on sliding back into English.

The featured star of Chicago is, drum roll please... SOPHIE-CARMEN JONES!

Sophie was absolutely flawless. She is a stunning actress, singer and dancing, there was absolutely nothing she couldn't do! She was perfectly casted!

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

Chicago will be touring till October, don't miss your chance to see this stunning show, or you will regret it!

Join me next time when I will be reviewing The Master Builder

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer