Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: Groundhog Day

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Groundhog Day.
I fell in love with Groundhog Day when I saw it in September at London's Old Vic on its closing night. It was my favourite show of 2016, I adored it! I couldn't wait to see it again; I was counting down the seconds! For my final day in New York (which was actually over 2 weeks ago now, sorry for the delay!), I got 40$ rush seats. What a bargain! Not only does it remain one of my favourite shows of all time, but it seemed even better second time round. I could happily watch this show again... and again... and again. My favourite aspect of this show is that it is so creative. Director Matthew Warchus has an extremely large imagination. He must be a genius! Whilst Groundhog Day is set in the dull small town of Punxsutawney, this outstanding musical isn't dull for one second. I was grinning from beginning to end. I had actually forgotten how good Andy Karl was. He shows extreme versatility, starting off with arrogance, going onward to depressive and finishing with a kind and sweet philanthropist. A role such as this one requires a vast range of acting ability, something which Andy Karl delivers with ease. He is also a phenomenal singer. Barrett Doss is owning the role of Rita. I thought Carlyss Peer was excellent in the London production, but Barrett Doss plays this role like no other. She was utter perfection, I thought she was perfectly cast. She too is a brilliant singer. All ensemble members are terrific. The score is one of my all time favourites. Since the cast album came out (Friday), I have been listening to it absolutely non-stop (a little bit like what Phil Connors goes through in the show!). I love every single song, I can't even choose a favourite. Choreography, lighting design, set design and costume design are all top quality; it is no surprise that all of these aspects received Olivier nominations (and if I'm honest, I feel they were robbed of some of the awards). I am terribly sad that the shows run in London was only a 2 month limited run. Luckily it will be returning to London in 2018. Typical, the West End finally creates a phenomenal musical which is loved by all, only for Broadway to take it off us!

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

I can't rave enough about Andy Karl. I am praying that he'll come to do the London revival of the show. I'm actually having a little bit of difficulty imagining what the show would be like without him. Sadly Andy recently injured himself and I truly hope he gets better soon. It's amazing that he's still doing some performances, even with his injury. There is no doubt that he's a trooper!

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

I had no doubt about this rating. Groundhog Day is one of the best musicals of all time, it would definitely be in my top 10 shows of all time.

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

And that brings us to the conclusion of my New York reviews! Join me next time when I will be reviewing Dreamgirls, in London!

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Review: In Transit

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of In Transit.
Quite a few people have asked me, of all the shows on Broadway right now, why did I choose this one? The idea of an a cappella musical fascinated me, it was exciting to see something that would be completely new and different. I prefer singing a cappella myself, so it was interesting to see a whole show being sung a cappella. I'm sad to say that this show closed 7 days after I saw it, which was not announced when I saw it. I'm sorry I couldn't get this review out before it closed. I had 10 shows to review from my New York trip and was in Orlando shortly after  New York, so have been extremely busy. But as they say, better late than never! I'm really sad the show closed so early, I thought it was a gem; it is so much fun! In Transit is brilliant from beginning to end, there wasn't a dull moment throughout. I actually really wish the show had gone on longer (it only lasts 1 hour and 35 minutes). Then again, as the old saying goes, "leave them wanting more". In Transit stars an absolutely phenomenal cast of only 11 people. All 11 are stunning, no bad word can be said about any of them. It's amazing to think that such a small cast are able to compensate for a whole orchestra! The music is also fantastic and I will be purchasing the cast album as soon as it comes out (it is being digitally released next Friday). I'm thrilled that the show will be preserved through this cast album. I have nothing but praise to say about the production aspects; the costume, lighting, set and choreography were all top quality. Transit's storyline follows four different stories of people in New York, and how they are all  somehow connected. The show is 100% original material, something which is extremely rare in a musical nowadays. The majority of musicals are based on films, with some being based on books and plays. The original musical is an endangered species, so producing an original musical was extremely brave of the producers. My one negative for the show is that I wasn't a huge fan of the way they portrayed the multi-roles.  I was a little confused in places as to whether they had changed characters or not and I feel as if it could be differentiated a little more. Even though In Transit is closed, maybe they could write a sequel about the London underground and play it at the Young Vic? You never know what may happen in the future!

The featured star of In Transit is, drum roll please... JAMES SNYDER!

In a show like this, it is extremely difficult to choose a featured star, as they were all on the same level with no weak links. However, having to choose one, I'm choosing James Snyder. I thought he was the perfect choice for the role he was playing and was a brilliant actor and singer as always. 

Now for my final verdict on In Transit. I give In Transit...

In Transit doesn't get my 5 star rating, but having said that, it has hardly any faults and is one I would recommend, if it were still open. I hope that the show has future life, perhaps an Off-Broadway transfer may be possible?

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Review: Hamilton (April 2017)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Hamilton.
As some of you may have seen on my Twitter, I was able to get $40 tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway (what an achievement)! I last saw Hamilton back in December 2015, but my Mum wasn't able to see it as tickets were so expensive so it was wonderful that she finally got the chance to see it (considering I've talked about it endlessly for over a year). Hamilton is my favourite musical of all time; I listen to it non-stop (pun intended). In this review I will be talking about the new cast of the show, and comparing them to the original Broadway cast. But first, let's talk about the production aspects. Second time around, I noticed the choreography and lighting design a lot more, both of which are the best I have ever seen in any show. They are really unique and second to none. A lot of thought has gone into both of these, they are two highlights of the show. I also adore the costumes, and as I mentioned in my first review, my favourite is the King George III costume. This goes without saying, but the music is phenomenal. I have a list of my top 10 songs of all time, where Hamilton takes up three spots (Wait For It, The Room Where It Happens and Satisfied). Each lyric has a deep meaning behind it and every word is carefully thought out. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius (but everyone knows that by now, right?). It was really weird seeing a different cast from the original. I've listened to the cast album day after day and have really gotten used to the voices and how the actors deliver them. Because of this, hearing certain lines delivered differently did throw me out a little. That by no means makes the show any less good, it's a more personal thing. However, I do feel as if a lot of the magic has left the show. Whilst still being a phenomenal show, it didn't seem to have that electric spark it used to. The original Broadway cast spent a lot of time getting the show right and perhaps time is what the new cast need. They are all giving very good performances, but to gel as well as the original cast together may take some time. Now to talk about the cast...

Javier Muñoz as Alexander Hamilton
When I first saw the show, it was Lin-Manuel as Hamilton that stole the show, so in my eyes it was Javier who had the biggest shoes to fill. It took me quite a long time to get used to the fact that Alexander Hamilton sounded and looked so different, however there is no denying he is brilliant in this role. Javier, whilst not being quite as good at rapping as Lin, is certainly a much better singer than Lin-Manuel. His voice really excels during 'Dear Theodosia' and 'Hurricane'. The only negative I have for Javier's performance is that I felt the final monologue that Alexander Hamilton does could have had a bit more emotion put into it, as it didn't move me to tears as it had originally.

Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr
Brandon is definitely giving one of the best performances in the entire show. He plays it extremely differently from Leslie Odom, Jr. and he certainly did make the part his own. Brandon plays Aaron Burr very seriously, something I think was very true to life. He absolutely nailed 'Wait For It', my favourite song of all time. My one negative for Brandon's performance is that during both the first 5 minutes of the show, and the last 5 minutes of the show, he seemed to have low energy. I'm not quite sure what was going on during those parts, but I assume it was tiredness due to being a two show day.

Elizabeth Judd understudying as Eliza Hamilton
I thought Elizabeth gave a phenomenal performance as Eliza and had I not read the sign saying she was understudying, I would never have know she wasn't in the role full time. She has a fantastic voice and portrayed Eliza perfectly. I can't fault her, I thought she really did an excellent job!

Bryan Terrell Clark as George Washington
Bryan excels as Washington; he is truly excellent in this role. Comparing his portrayal to Christopher Jackson, I'd say Bryan is actually a better actor that Christopher Jackson, however not quite as good a a singer (he's still a great singer, but it's very hard to beat Christopher Jackson at that). He really suited the part and gave a very powerful performance. He is extremely well cast.

Mandy Gonzalez as Angelica Schuyler
Mandy is perfect for the part and I really did like her in the role, however I feel as if she became upstaged a little during certain parts of the show. She has the potential to become phenomenal, but her performance needs more passion to make her a stand out. Perhaps as time goes by this will happen.

Seth Stewart as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson
This was always going to be tough role to take on after Daveed Diggs' stunning performance; where Daveed made it seem like the role was actually written for him. This puts Seth Stewart is quite a difficult position. He has a very good portrayal of Thomas Jefferson, but I wasn't the biggest fan of his portrayal of Marquis de Lafayette. His performance of Marquis de Lafayette looked like it needed some work and the French accent just wasn't right. During 'Guns and Ships', the French accent seemed to disappear. Luckily though, he redeems himself in act two as Thomas Jefferson, where I can't fault his acting, singing or rapping. He was hilarious as Thomas Jefferson!

Anthony Lee Medina as John Laurens / Philip Hamilton
Anthony Lee Medina was absolutely perfect for both of these roles and he was just as good as original Broadway cast member Anthony Ramos (if not better). I loved both of his portrayals! He played the passion of John Laurens and the youth and innocence of Phillip Hamilton. Anthony Lee Medina is an extremely good actor!

J. Quinton Johnson as Hercules Mulligan / James Madison
J. is an astounding actor and rapper, he did both roles justice. I thought he was the perfect choice for both of these parts and was just as good as Okieriete Onaodowan. I don't have a bad word to say about his performance.

Alysha Deslorieux as Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds
Whilst I didn't think Alysha was bad, she didn't leave an impression the same way that original Broadway cast member Jasmine Cephas Jones did. There isn't anything particularly wrong with the performance, but there isn't anything special to it.

Taran Killam as King George III
Taran absolutely stole the show, despite a short stage time. He is an incredible King George, I loved his performance. He is complete and utter perfection! King George III only has 9 minutes of stage time, and yet it was Taran who left the biggest impression. I thought he was the star of the show! He is definitely just as good as Jonathan Groff.

The featured star of Hamilton is, drum roll please... TARAN KILLAM!

This was actually a very tough decision, as I wasn't sure whether to award featured star to Taran Killam or Brandon Victor Dixon (Aaron Burr, Sir). In the end I decided to go with Taran, as I can't deny it was him who stole the show. He really made the role his own and it worked extremely well. He was hilarious!

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

This was an obvious rating, as Hamilton is my favourite show of all time. Despite some of the magic going, it is still a phenomenal show and nothing can take that away. The new cast are doing a good job and will get better as time goes on.

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Monday, 17 April 2017

Review: Sunset Boulevard

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Sunset Boulevard.
I tried to get tickets for Sunset Boulevard when it was playing at the London Coliseum last year in April, however tickets were very expensive so in the end I had to give it a miss. Luckily, the Broadway production was doing rush, which gave me the opportunity to see this production. I had a feeling the show would be good, but it seems I didn't realise quite how good it would be. It is phenomenal and surpassed all my expectations! I absolutely adored Sunset Boulevard! The story follows past silent screen actress Norma Desmond, who has recently faded out into obscurity and is slowly going insane. A young screenwriter turns up at her door one day and he is kept there like a prisoner. Whenever he tries to leave, she attempts to commit suicide. I was really moved by the storyline and found it gripping from beginning to end. The more dramatic moments of the show are done perfectly and I mainly give credit to director Lonny Price for this. I consider Lonny Price to be one of the best stage directors at the moment. All the cast are phenomenal, especially the lead four. The lead four are Glenn Close as Norma Desmond, Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer and Fred Johanson as Max von Meyerling. Glenn Close gives one of the best performances onstage that I have ever seen. It's amazing to think she originated the role on Broadway over 20 years ago! This is a performance that cannot be praised enough. Her performance is magical, it's the best performance I've seen since Michael C. Hall in Lazarus. Glenn Close's performance is worth the ticket price alone, and then some. Even though they are up against a big star like Glenn Close, Michael Xavier, Siobhan Dillon and Fred Johanson all hold their own and give amazing and memorable performances. They all shine! The lighting and costume design are both exceptional. As you can see, I loved this show from start to finish and I am really happy I got the chance to see this amazing revival. It's a show I won't be forgetting and would happily see it again if given the chance.

The featured star of Sunset Boulevard is, drum roll please... GLENN CLOSE!

Glenn Close is giving the performance of a lifetime. It's amazing to think she is 70 years old; I don't think too many people could pull that off at 70! Her voice is absolutely phenomenal. Her rendition of 'As If We Never Said Goodbye' is incredible.

Now for my final verdict on Sunset Boulevard. I give Sunset Boulevard...

I had to give this show 5 stars; the show is amazing with no faults. I cannot come up with any critiques for this production, it's perfect in every way!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Review: Oslo

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Oslo.
I had tried to see Oslo during my last trip to New York back in August 2016, but it was sold out and I couldn't get any tickets. I was absolutely delighted when I read the news that Oslo would be transferring to Broadway, so I'd be able to get the chance to finally see it. I find the play utterly fascinating, due to the historic teachings that the show brings. The show follows the peace agreements between Israel and Palestine. Orchestrating the peace agreements were a husband and wife team of politicians from Norway. It's quite amazing that at the end of the day, all it took to begin the peace agreements were a determined husband and wife from Norway. It really does show that you can do anything that you put your mind to! The play keeps the audience on the  edge of their seats throughout, it was able to keep my attention for the vast majority of the show (which is extremely hard to do, considering it was three hours). Funnily enough, it actually seemed shorter than other shows which are only 2 and a half hours *cough* Present Laughter *cough*. The play is structured very well, in a way that keeps the tension throughout. The show is performed by a top notch cast with no weak links whatsoever. I cannot fault any of the cast, each and every single one of them are so talented. I can't even pick any standouts, because they all did such an excellent job! I was very impressed with both the lighting and sound design, they were excellent. The show uses video projections, which is extremely well done. One of my critiques for the show is that I felt the stage was way too big for the show, especially as the set is very small. Perhaps if they had made a bigger set it would have suited it better, but it didn't feel right to have Oslo on such a big stage. This is nothing major and does not spoil the show itself. My other critique for the show is that I feel it could be cut down possibly by 20 minutes. When telling people about the show, they've loved the sound of it, up until the point where I mention it's three hours. Even though the time goes by pretty quickly, I still think the show would benefit from this time cut.

The featured star of Oslo is, drum roll please... JEFFERSON MAYS!

This is a cast full of wonderful actors, so I could have chosen anyone for this. However, having to choose, I'd go with Jefferson. I saw him in April 2015 in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and thought he was brilliant. To see him onstage again was great, he is a wonderful performer! After seeing this, I have truly been shown he is extremely versatile.

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

This rating was quite an easy decision to make; it's brilliant and deserved 4 stars with no doubt. It's a fascinating storyline with a wonderful cast; what more could be wanted from a play? It's not quite a 5 star, but I still loved it.

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Review: Amélie

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Amélie.
Amélie was originally on my "back-up shows" list, however in the end I had more time than I thought I would so I was able to see it. The main reason behind me wanting to see the show was to see  Phillipa Soo. I thought she was stunning in Hamilton and was curious to see how her newest project was going. This is going to be a tough review to write, because I have very mixed feelings. I enjoyed it, but there are a lot of things that are wrong with this show. If I'm honest, I found the show to be really weird. The show had everything, from a talking goldfish on a scooter, to one of the characters dying from being jumped on by a fat man, to Elton John jumping out of the television, to a singing and dancing gnome. I don't think there's anything quite like it. I just found it all to be so strange. Apart from the one song of 'Times Are Hard for Dreamers', I wasn't a big fan of the music. The music seemed somewhat lifeless and there were no catchy songs (apart from that one) that stayed in my head. It seemed the show was lacking heart, which I personally felt left it to be quite average. There's nothing about this show that makes it special, nor does it stand out from other shows. Luckily, that's all I have to say about the bad points of the show, time for positives! Phillipa Soo is phenomenal, just as I had expected. She is a stunning actress and a stunning singer. Phillipa Soo is the sole reason my attention was kept throughout. She is the absolute one thing that makes the show enjoyable. She is a treat to watch! I thought the set design was lovely and was really nice to look at. Even despite the shows flaws, I did still enjoy it and I (somewhat) related with Amélie, because the character was homeschooled and I have been homeschooled for various parts of my life. Is this a must-see show? No. Would I recommend it to those who are curious to see Phillipa Soo's new work? Absolutely!

The featured star of Amélie is, drum roll please... PHILLIPA SOO!

What really makes Phillipa Soo's performance a success is the fact she's not in the greatest musical, however she's doing her very best to make it great and it really shows. Whether you liked the show, or you disliked the show, it seems that everyone agrees that Phillipa Soo is amazing!

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

I give this rating because, it is a show with quite a few flaws, but it has many good qualities which is what makes it a three star.

This 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

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
I first saw Sweeney Todd back in April 2015 at the London Coliseum, where it became one of my favourite musicals of all time (it's in the top 5). Since seeing it two years ago, I've always wanted to see it again live to get a deeper understanding of the show and to catch any parts that I may have missed. I was thrilled to be able to get that opportunity on my trip to New York! I had tried to see this production whilst it was in London, but it was sold out. I was finally able to see this production! It was really interesting to see a different version of the show. Sweeney Todd can be staged in many, many different ways. The intimacy of the the Harrington's Pie Shop set is extremely unique and works brilliantly, especially during the more dramatic moments of the show (and there's tons of those!). There is something really special about this production and I urge all Sweeney Todd fans to do their best to get a ticket for this stunning production. The cast are phenomenal and each bring a lot to the show. Despite there only being 8 cast members, they create an incredible atmosphere. Jeremy Secomb, who played Sweeney Todd, was by far the best Sweeney I have seen. I have seen two other Sweeney's (Bryn Terfel at the London Coliseum and Johnny Depp in the film), but neither of them are near Jeremy's level of talent. He was absolutely terrifying, especially during his great interaction with the audience. He also has a very good voice. Siobhan McCarthy, who played Mrs. Lovett, was hilarious and absolutely nailed the comedic parts of the show. Matt Doyle and Alex Finke, as Anthony and Johanna, made a perfect pair and harmonised well together. Also, they had fantastic British accents, with me not realising they were American until I met them at stage door. Duncan Smith is brilliant as Judge Turpin. He had a strong voice and played the role extremely creepily, just how it should be! Joseph Taylor plays the role of Tobias young and innocent, which I believe is the best way to portray Tobias. It really added a lot to the character. Beadle Bamford usually isn't  that significant, but Brad Oscar had done wonders in the role. He really makes something out of the character. Last but not least, Betsy Morgan, who portrays Beggar Woman and Pirelli, has an outstanding voice! Assisting the cast is the orchestra of 3, who are sublime. It's amazing that they are able to create a whole orchestra out of just 3 people! The recreation of Harrington's Pie Shop is superb, it's like stepping back in time. The lighting design is hidden behind vents, which also adds to this stunning production. It really is wonderful to see such creative thinking. This goes without saying, but I adored the music (who doesn't?). I saw this the same day I saw Sunday in the Park with George: double Sondheim! My one critique for the show (and this is a nitpick), but the female Pirelli had a long pony tail which I feel should have been hidden with the hat she was wearing. But as I said, this is a nitpick!

The featured star of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is, drum roll please... JEREMY SECOMB!

As previously mentioned, Jeremy is a stunner. This is a really strong cast, and yet when choosing featured star I knew it would be him, so that certainly says a lot about his performance. He does everything right to be the perfect Sweeney Todd. This is a performance that cannot be faulted in the slightest.

Now for my final verdict on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I give Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street...

I decided to give this rating because I was seriously impressed with how creative it was. Sweeney is one of my favourite musicals of all time, and to see it again was absolutely wonderful! That's my third 5 star in a row, I'm on a roll!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Review: Sunday in the Park with George

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Sunday in the Park with George.
I didn't know too much about the show going into the theatre, however I had read about the storyline a few weeks ago and thought it sounded very interesting. I am also a big fan of Stephen Sondheim (composer of one of my favourite all time musicals: Sweeney Todd), so any chance to see another Sondheim musical gets a big yes from me. Luckily, it was a stunning production and was thrilling to watch. What I found to be most interesting about this show is that the show follows two storylines. Act one follows painter George Seurat and act two follows his great-grandson, also named George. It was sort of like seeing two shows for the price of one! Jake Gyllenhaal, as George (both of them), and Annaleigh Ashford, as Dot and Marie, are perfect in this production. They are both phenomenal at acting and singing. They have been really well paired for the revival, I couldn't have created a better pair myself.  Both actors showed a lot of versatility, especially Annaleigh who has to do two very different characters. They were an absolute pleasure to watch. They are backed up by a terrific ensemble, I couldn't fault anyone in this show. The costume and lighting design are excellent. Speaking of the lighting design, there's something really special in act two involving the lights. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, so all you need to know is that I was amazed during "Chromolume #7". I also really liked the orchestra, and having them onstage really added something special to the show. Even though is it a concert production, I was very impressed with how much they were able to create, whilst still keeping it fairly minimal. The two storylines are really interesting and touching, and I think can be relatable for many. It was wonderful to experience another Sondheim musical; his music is stunning. He's one of my favourite composers of all time, he is truly amazing! My only critique for the show would be that I think more could be done to make it clearer that there has been a storyline change. It was clear that Annaleigh Ashford was playing a different character, but I feel that Jake Gyllenhaal could have done more to differentiate between his two characters.

The featured star of Sunday in the Park with George is, drum roll please... ANNALEIGH ASHFORD!

This was a really great cast, and yet Annaleigh was still the absolute stand-out. She has a huge presence onstage and all attention is on her whenever she enters. Stunning acting, stunning voice, what more could you want from a leading lady?

Now for my final verdict on Sunday in the Park with George. I give Sunday in the Park with George...

This was a rating I really struggled to decide on: 4 or 5 stars? I eventually decided to go with 5, because there is no denying what a stunning and fresh revival this is, with a spectacular cast. Adding to this, any show composed by Sondheim usually deserves 5!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Friday, 7 April 2017

Review: Hello, Dolly!

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Hello, Dolly!
Hello, Dolly! was at the top of my wishlist of New York shows, due to it starring one of my favourite actors of all time... David Hyde Pierce! I've always wanted to see David Hyde Pierce live and the opportunity finally arose. As you most likely know though, tickets were extremely hard to get. However, wherever there is a will there is a way! This is the best show I have seen in months. I left the theatre walking on air; the show is a thrill from beginning to end. They have pulled out all the stops for this stunning revival. Every part about it is amazing. If I had to choose my favourite aspect of the show, it would be the stunning cast. Every single one of them could act, sing and dance brilliantly. They all fitted in with each other really well and there was absolutely no weak link. It was nice to see that the show wasn't only focused on Bette Middler, with everyone having a chance to shine. Cast members who stood out were Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi, David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder, Gavin Creel as Cornelius Hackl, Kate Baldwin as Irene Molly, Taylor Trensch as Barnaby Tucker and Beanie Feldstein as Minnie Fay. Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce are pure magic onstage together. They make a wonderful team and compliment each others talents. Not only this, but they are both hilarious. They are the perfect stage combination! All of the production aspects of the show are excellent. Nothing can be faulted about the set design, costume design or lighting design. They are perfect in every way! The choreography is glorious as well; everything in this show is seriously amazing! The music is another highlight of the show and I cannot wait for the cast recording of this revival to be released. The storyline was really interesting to follow, I was gripped from beginning to end. I even lost track of the time (I think it was around 2 hours and a half, but not sure). As I'm sure you can tell, I adored this revival. I urge everyone in New York to pick up a ticket to this. It is one of the best shows on Broadway right now.

The featured star of Hello, Dolly! is, drum roll please... BETTE MIDLER!

This was an extremely hard decision, and I was planning to give featured star to David Hyde Pierce at one point, but in the end it has to go to Bette Midler. I think she's definitely going to win the Tony. She adds so much to the show. Funnily enough, I hadn't actually known Bette Midler prior to seeing the show (I must have been the only one the theatre), but she was terrific. She is truly a star!

Now for my final verdict on Hello, Dolly! I give Hello, Dolly!...

I give this rating because it was a stunning show from beginning to end with no faults. 

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Review: Present Laughter

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Present Laughter. 
I'm finally in New York! *excited squee* Present Laughter was the first show we went to see, which was saw mainly to see Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother star) live. Sadly this show 'wasn't my cup of tea'. The problem I found with this show, was that there was nothing I really gained from it. At the end of the show I was left wondering what the point was and why had they made this into a show (and revived it). The main reason for this is that there really isn't much to the storyline. Present Laughter follows an arrogant actor and his mistresses, with how busy his mornings get. There really isn't much more to it. When I see a show, I hope I will go away having learnt something, or to be wowed, or something along those lines, but I didn't feel like I had any of that here. The play dragged on quite a lot, with the running time being 2 hours and a half. The show would be vastly improved if the time were to be cut down. This show seems to be "marmite" type. You love it or hate it. After seeing the show, I had a look on the Broadway forum on to see what people thought of it. There were many saying they hated it, however there were many saying they loved it. I think the main factor to it is that the comedy in the show only appeals to a certain type. If you're one of those who loves farces, then I would definitely recommend it. If it's not your genre, than I would say to look for a different show. Sadly I felt that a large portion of the actors didn't seem right for their roles. They were either overacted or underacted, there wasn't really an in-between for the majority of them. Having said that, there were four actors who I thought were excellent. They were: Kevin Kline as Garry Essendine, Kate Burton as Liz Essendine, Kristine Nielsen as Monica Reed and Cobie Smulders as Joanna Lyppiatt. These four were all excellent, I could not fault them in any way. I really liked both the costume design and the set design, they were outstanding! I wouldn't be surprised if they pick up Tony nominations for these aspects. Despite not all the acting being great, I thought all the British accents were outstanding and better than a lot of productions. Overall, there are worse plays out there and this isn't terrible, but it did nothing in particular to win me over.

The featured star of Present Laughter is, drum roll please... KEVIN KLINE!

This was a tough one, as all of the four actors I mentioned would be worthy, however at the end of the day I have to give it to Kevin Kline. There have been a lot of reports about his performance claiming he is unenthusiastic and boring. I couldn't disagree more. I felt he was one of the more positive aspects of the show and thought he did an outstanding job in what was quite a dull play. 

Now for my final verdict on Present Laughter. I give Present Laughter...

I give this verdict because it was not a show I was particularly impressed with, however there are many redeeming qualities, which puts it at a three star rating.

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 Hello, Dolly!

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Basic Theatre Awards 2017-The Results

Hey readers!

After 6 weeks of waiting, I am thrilled to finally be announcing the winners of this years Basic Theatre Awards! It has been amazing to see the support for the awards this year and I am pleased to say we had a 36% increase in votes! I thank all of those who voted for their favourite productions, actors and actresses and I am sure they are all extremely grateful! Here we go...

Winning with 36% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play goes to...

Esther Smith in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as Delphi Diggory in the West End!

This was the closest category, with this outcome only being decided in the last week, however in the end it was Esther Smith who took the crown. In what is already a cast full of stunners, Esther is one of the major stand-outs. What I was most impressed with was the subtlety of her performance. Delphi is involved with a major plot twist and it is because of Esther's remarkable acting that you would not have seen it coming.

The other nominees were
  • Olivia Greene-The 39 Steps
  • Barbar Marten-People, Places and Things
  • Pascale Armand-Eclipsed
  • Saycon Senbloh-Eclipsed

Winning with 38% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play goes to...

Paul Thornley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as Ron Weasley in the West End!

Paul was an early favourite to win this race, however starting from week two he faced some fierce opposition. In the end, the Potterheads joined together to help Paul win. Having seen the films of Harry Potter (and having read a few of the books), Paul's portrayal of Ron is exactly how I would have imagined an adult Ron. He does everything right to be the best possible Ron. He's goofy, he's got a good comic timing and is great during the more serious moments of the show.

The other nominees were
  • Bryan Dick-Hobson's Choice
  • Christopher Simpson-Brideshead Revisited
  • Kunal Nayyar-The Spoils
  • Malcolm Sinclair-This House 

Winning with 50% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play goes to...

Denise Gough in People, Places and Things as Emma in the West End!

Denise won this award with ease, and not surprisingly. Denise gives an absolute masterpiece of a performance. I had a look at my review of People, Places and Things and in it I wrote that Denise Gough gave "the performance of a lifetime in a role she was born to play". I ,100% stand by that comment. People, Places and Things will be going on a UK Tour later this year, which Denise will not be appearing in, due to her starring in the shows transfer to America. It won't be the same without her!

The other nominees were
  • Sarah Snook-The Master Builder
  • Lupita Nyong'o-Eclipsed
  • Kelley Curran-Sense and Sensibility 
  • Kate Hamill-Sense and Sensibility

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

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End!

This was a three horse race which towards the beginning of the awards looked like it could go any way. However, in week three Harry Potter and the Cursed Child began to take the lead and won with a plurality of the votes. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is pure magic, there's something so special about it. The two parts combined are over 5 hours; at the end of these 5 hours I truly felt like I had been on a wonderful journey with these characters and really related to them.

The other nominees were
  • The Father-UK Tour
  • People, Places and Things-West End
  • Your Ever Loving-Fringe
  • The Spoils-West End

Winning with 42% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Understudy goes to...

Arun Blair-Mangat in Kinky Boots as Lola in the West End!

As I'm sure many of you know, I am a huge understudy supporter. I feel they are massively under appreciated. Many feel the same way and it is so nice to see how much support this category gets. Arun Blair-Mangat's performance is stunning. He has a stage presence like no other. Whenever he entered the stage all the focus would be on him. He is also a triple threat: amazing actor, amazing singer and amazing dancer. I can't give enough praise to this performance!

The other nominees were
  • Adam Grupper-Fiddler on the Roof
  • Jonathan Stewart-Guys and Dolls
  • Nathan Madden-An American in Paris
  • Sam O'Rourke-Half a Sixpence

Winning with 36% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical goes to...

Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple as Celie on Broadway!

This was yet another close one, where the verdict wasn't decided towards the very end, however it's very hard to beat a Tony Winner such as Cynthia Erivo. I first saw Cynthia back in 2014; she starred in "I Can't Sing-The X Factor Musical". It would be an understatement to say that she has progressed. It's amazing to see the level she has climbed to. Her solo of "I'm Here" melts my heart. I am absolutely praying that Cynthia's next piece of work will be Hamilton (Eliza or Angelica, I'm not picky!).

The other nominees were
  • Sheridan Smith-Funny Girl
  • Jessie Mueller-Waitress
  • Rebel Wilson-Guys and Dolls
  • Anita Louise Combe-Ragtime

Winning with 60% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical goes to...

Michael Esper in Lazarus as Valentine Off West End!

Out of all of the categories, Michael Esper has won his award with the largest percentage. Congrats Michael! Lazarus is one of my favourite shows of all time. One of the reasons for this being the stunning performances. Michael's character is a psychotic killer, and Michael plays this out really well. He plays the character really calmly and builds up anger, which works very well. Adding to this, he has a stunning voice!

The other nominees were
  • Tom McGowan-She Loves Me
  • Christopher Fitzgerald-Waitress
  • Isaiah Johnson-The Color Purple
  • Jonathan Stewart-Ragtime

Winning with 38% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to... 

Ian McKellen in No Man's Land as Spooner in the West End!

This was another three horse race, with the result changing many times but in the end Ian McKellen won with a much larger amount of votes than his opponents. In my opinion, this was the best category and I always knew this would be extremely competitive. Ian McKellen is one of the United Kingdom's best actors. To see him live onstage was an amazing experience. He shined in this role and I was so lucky to have seen it. I booked the tickets 6 and a half months before seeing the show, so it was a long wait, but it was definitely worth it.

The other nominees were
  • Stefan McCusker-Your Ever Loving
  • Jesse Eisenberg-The Spoils
  • Patrick Stewart-No Man's Land
  • Anthony Boyle-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Winning with 46% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical goes to...

Sophia Anne Caurso in Lazarus as Girl Off West End!

On day one, this award looked liked it could go any way. However, after a few hours, Sophia tweeted about Lazarus's nominations and all Bowie fans joined together. I really appreciate Sophia spreading the word about the awards, so thank you Sophia! Sophia's performance as the Girl is mesmerising. There is a lot of mystery to the character, which is perfectly portrayed. Sophia's voice is one of the best I have ever heard, she is amazing!

The other nominees were
  • Emma Williams-Mrs. Henderson Presents
  • Jane Krakowski-She Loves Me
  • Keala Settle-Waitress
  • Danielle Brooks-The Color Purple

Winning with 52% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical goes to...

Michael C. Hall in Lazarus as Thomas Jerome Newton Off West End

Michael C. Hall's performance is the best theatrical performance I have seen in a long time. When I saw Lazarus in December 2015, I didn't realise how genius his performance was. Having seen it a second time, I am in amazement. His character is very damaged and is most likely at the point of mental insanity. A role like this takes a high amount of skill. Whenever I looked at him onstage, he was always in character. Even when he was just in the background. He also has a phenomenal voice. I love the way he performs "Where Are We Now?".

The other nominees were
  • Robert Creighton-Cagney
  • Andy Karl-Groundhog Day
  • Gary Tushaw-Ragtime
  • Ako Mitchell-Ragtime

Winning with 40% of the vote, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Musical goes to...

Lazarus-Off West End

I saw the show in December 2015 in New York. I was puzzled by a lot of it, but really liked it. I felt there was a deeper meaning of the show that I had missed. I went back on New Years Day 2017 in London and I certainly found all those deeper meanings! I was really touched by the show; I was even close to tears towards the end. It is a show that is both heartbreaking and haunting. I did not want it to end. This is a show that I just want to watch over and over again. I am praying that there will be a DVD release of the show. Fingers crossed!

The other nominees were
  • Fiddler on the Roof-Broadway
  • Waitress-Broadway
  • Kinky Boots-West End
  • Groundhog Day-West End

And that brings us to the conclusion of the 2017 Basic Theatre Awards. Once again, a huge thanks to all of those that voted and to all the actors that spread the word. Congratulations to all the winners!

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer