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