Saturday, 30 September 2017

Review: Ordinary Days

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Ordinary Days.
Visiting Off-West End venues is a rarity for me, as when I go in to Central London I usually only visit the West End. However, I was kindly offered a press ticke
t to see Ordinary Days at the Bridewell Theatre, and I decided to accept. Having not been to an Off-West End theatre since March, this was a really fun experience. This production of Ordinary Days is an absolute gem; it left me with feelings of astonishment. This show is the perfect example of what fantastic shows can be found Off-West End.

The cast performing in this production were four of the most talented people I have seen in a while. Each performance was both highly memorable and more than noteworthy. Inti Conde, as Jason, gave an astounding performance. From beginning to end, he displayed such raw emotion. In addition to this, he had a tremendous voice. Kate Gledhill's performance of Deb showed us a very wide range of skills, excelling in both the comedic and more serious parts of the show. Glen Jordan's portrayal of Warren was absolutely hilarious; he had flawless comic timing and delivered every line perfectly. Furthermore, he had a lovely voice. Louisa Roberts, who performed in the role of Claire, had the most wonderful voice. Her performance of the song "I'll Be Here" was phenomenal. She was also a mesmerising actress. This was an absolutely fabulous cast, who were a pleasure to watch throughout the whole performance. All four of them had impeccable comic timing, marvellous acting and singing, and very accurate American accents. They all have the potential to have great careers.


Both the music and lyrics are extremely well written and I loved every single song. I have already started listening to the original cast recording and the more I listen to it, the more and more I like it. It would be great to hear the score performed by a large orchestra, as I imagine that it would sound beautiful. Having said that, the score still sounds wonderful when being performed solely by a pianist, and the pianist that is performing at this production is terrific.

Ordinary Days tells three different stories (four, if you hold the belief that the stories of Jason and Claire were separate), and each of them were so much fun to follow. Warren's story follows his life working as a cat-sitter for a jailed artist, Deb's story follows her life at university and Jason and Claire's story follows their decision to move in together. Despite all living in the big city of New York, they all cross paths more than once. The different storylines all displayed messages of friendship, love and hope. I felt so transported to their world and really connected with every single character.

The set was small and minimal, however it worked very effectively for the show. After having some time to reflect on the show, the set actually seems quite symbolic. The small set portrays the large city of New York, however, as the characters seem to find out, New York is not as big as it originally seems.

This was such a fantastic production, I was so glad I was able to see it. It's a shame that the production was limited to a 4 day run, as it is clear how much effort has gone in to it. However, I was glad to see that the theatre was absolutely packed, and therefore quite a large amount of people have been able to see it, which is great.

The featured star of Ordinary Days is, drum roll please... KATE GLEDHILL!

This decision took a whole 10 minutes to decide upon. In my eyes, all the cast members were equally amazing and there did not seem to be one that stood out above the others. I even thought about scrapping "featured star" for this review, however I'm a stickler for keeping the same format. I finally chose Kate for featured star. Deb is an extremely hard role to do, it requires a very wide range of skill from the actress who plays the role, as the character has both very funny and serious moments. Kate excelled in all those areas, she was perfect!

Now for my final verdict on Ordinary Days. I give Ordinary Days...

The decision to give Ordinary Days 4 stars was easy; there was no way I would give this production anything below that. I 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

Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Driving Miss Daisy

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Driving Miss Daisy.
My Mum had seen the film of Driving Miss Daisy many years ago and had a memory of really enjoying it, so she suggested visiting the play on its UK Tour at Richmond Theatre, where it had stopped off for a week. My knowledge of the show was fairly limited, however before seeing it I was able to search a brief synopsis of the play.

Driving Miss Daisy follows Daisy Werthan, an elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta, who is determined to maintain her independence. However, when she crashes her car, her son, Boolie, arranges for her to have a chauffeur, an African-American driver named Hoke Colburn. Daisy and Hoke's relationship gets off to a rocky start, but they gradually form a close friendship over the years, one that transcends racial prejudices and social conventions. For the most part, the play is a comedy, however that doesn't stop the show covering sensitive issues. Driving Miss Daisy deals with issues of anti-simetism, racism, dementia, along with many others. All of these issues are excellently portrayed and are handled very well. The storyline of Driving Miss Daisy was extremely touching, and the final scene of the play even moved me to tears, which is something that rarely happens nowadays. In addition to this, Driving Miss Daisy was in fact a true story, and that gives the play a lot more significance, as it gives an insight to what life was like for certain people in that time period. The writing of Driving Miss Daisy is superb and has a great deal of depth to it.

All three cast members were phenomenal! Siân Phillips' portrayal of Daisy Werthan was captivating, moving and flawless. Driving Miss Daisy follows a period of 25 years, and thanks to Siân's wonderful acting, the change and progression of the character is quite clear. Derek Griffiths' performance of Hoak Colburn was amazing; it was impossible not to like the character. The role of Hoak demands a lot of versatility, and fortunately this is something that Derek is able to pull off. Despite not having as large a role as his co-stars, Teddy Kempner as Boolie Werthan gave a memorable, noteworthy and all round fantastic performance. All three actors kept the show alive from beginning to end. It was their performances that kept my attention from beginning to end. It was a joy to watch such experienced actors.

It is not often that I notice direction within a show, however it was clear that this production of Driving Miss Daisy was in the hands of a very good director. Richard Beecham has done wonders for this production and his work was very noticeable. The lighting and costume design were also very good, and complimented the show well.

The featured star of Driving Miss Daisy is, drum roll please... SIÂN PHILLIPS!

This was an incredibly hard decision, as all three actors were sublime. I turned to my Mum for advice on this decision, as I found it too hard to choose. I began the play disliking the character of Daisy, however as the play went on I couldn't help but adore her. This was due to Siân's phenomenal acting, who very clearly shows the progression of the character throughout 25 years. 

Now for my final verdict on Driving Miss Daisy. I give Driving Miss Daisy...

This decision was easy for me; I had no doubt in my mind that this would be anything below a 4 star. I throughly enjoyed every moment of the show and I wish the production the best of luck for the rest of the tour.

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, 6 September 2017

Review: Wait Until Dark

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Wait Until Dark.
With the beginning of the school year and the end of the Summer holidays looming, I decided to have one last theatre trip to see Wait Until Dark on its opening night at Richmond Theatre. I had not read any reviews of the show, nor had I heard any opinions, so I was very unsure as to what I should expect.

What makes this production of Wait Until Dark special and unique, is its casting of blind actress Karina Jones, in the role of Susy, a character who is also blind. Throughout its many theatrical productions, a blind actress has surprisingly never played the character of Susy. The casting directors decided to break this tradition and opted for a blind actress to play the lead role. I applaud the casting directors for this decision; it may have been risky but it has certainly paid off. Karina Jones stated in an interview, which can be found in the programme, that "producers and directors should give disabled roles to disabled actors". Karina has my full support with this statement and I agree with every part of what she has said. Unlike any actress who is not blind, Karina is able to fully connect with the character and I get the sense that she is truly able to relate with 'Susy'. Karine fully embodies the role and I was able to understand every thought and feeling of the character.

The cast of Wait Until Dark also includes Jack Ellis as Mike, Graeme Brookes as Croker, Tim Treloar as Roat, Oliver Mellor as Sam, Shannon Rewcroft as Gloria and Tom Mccarran as a Policeman. They all had absolutely wonderful characterisations and I would say that all of those performances are very noteworthy.

Frederick Knott's writing is fantastic. It's extremely captivating and he does a highly convincing job of building up tension throughout the play. I had originally believed that there would be no serious threat to the main character (Susy) and that she would be victorious. However, as the play went on, these thoughts disappeared. I doubted every thought I once had. Wait Until Dark is full of surprises, twists and turns, I was on the edge of my seat throughout. A particular highlight of the brilliant writing was the final scene, which left me scared to go to sleep that night. It is terrifying and the audience are left with no clue as to which characters will be left alive.

The set design of a basement flat in Notting Hill was great, due to the fact that it was thoroughly detailed. It worked perfectly and aided the show well. The lighting design was superb, with the stand-out "lighting moment" being the final scene. The lighting design plays an extremely major role in the final scene, and helps a lot with building tension and suspense.

Wait Until Dark is visiting 11 other venues until December, so if Wait Until Dark is playing in a venue which is near where you are located, it is well worth seeing for a great night out!

The featured star of Wait Until Dark is, drum roll please... KARINA JONES!

It's astonishing to think that a blind actress has not been cast in this role before, but I am so glad that this has now been changed. I could definitely tell that Karina has a personal connection with the character of Susy, and this is what makes her performance phenomenal. Karina can most likely understand all of the problems that Susy faces on a daily basis, and therefore it was fantastic to see a performance that was so true to life.

Now for my final verdict on Wait Until Dark. I give Wait Until Dark...

During act one, I was verging on giving the show three stars. However in act two the show really picks up and on the whole this production deserves 4 stars!

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

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I was really eager to see Jesus Christ Superstar during its initial run at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2016, however to my disappointment the show had quickly sold out. When an announcement was made declaring that the show would be returning, I immediately got tickets. I had seen the show two years ago at Wimbledon Theatre, where it had made a stop during its UK Tour. That production was set in the actual time period that Jesus Christ had lived in, however the Regent's Park production reimagined the show to have it take place in the modern era. It was very interesting to see the differences, and whilst I do prefer the show being performed in the actual time period the musical is set it, I still enjoyed seeing a different director's take on the show.

The score of Jesus Christ Superstar is legendary. I think that Andrew Lloyd Webber is an absolutely brilliant composer; I adore all of his music. It would be a very hard decision, but I would ultimately say that the score of Jesus Christ Superstar is my favourite Lloyd Webber score. Each song is highly memorable and there are some truly wonderful songs. My chosen highlights from the score are "Damned For All Time", "Gethsemane" and "Judas' Death". The lyrics, written by Tim Rice, are extremely clever and have a lot of depth within them. Performing the music was a phenomenal orchestra. The orchestra were in a compartment above the stage, viewable by all audience members. It was great to be able to see the orchestra in plain-view, and my attention occasionally came off the main stage in order to take a look at what the orchestra were doing at certain moments during the show. A particular stand-out from the orchestra was the guitarist, who was exceptionally talented.

It took me a while to warm to Declan Bennett's portrayal of Jesus, however he really comes into his element when singing "Gethsemane" and after that moment he got better and better, to the point where his performance was perfection. Co-starring with Declan as Jesus, was Olivier Award nominee Tyrone Huntley as Judas. Judas is an extremely difficult role to play, and there are many different types of voices I have heard sing the role. There are some who choose to sing it with little control over their voice, to the point where they are practically screaming. There are some who choose to sing it by straining their voice, but with control and no screaming. I don't know how he has done it, but Tyrone has found the perfect way to sing as Judas. His voice is incredible; he has very good control of it and has an extremely wide range. This is a Judas like no other. Tyrone has an extremely large stage presence, and whenever he entered the stage I was always captivated by what he was doing. I really hope they make a cast album of this production, as it would be wonderful to have Declan and Tryone's voices in the show preserved. Other cast members who stood out were David Thaxton as Pilate, Phillip Browne as Caiaphas and Peter Caulfield as Herod.

The set design is very minimal, with the show being a concert staging. The set design did not particularly stun me, however I think it would be fair to say that it served its purpose. The lighting design had received an Oliver Award nomination, and I had seen pictures of it where it looked great, however because I was at the matinee the lighting design was minimal due to there being natural light in the theatre. It was a shame that I was unable to see the full effect of the lighting design, but it was definitely not a major concern. Whilst I understand what the costume designer was attempting to do when creating the costumes for this production, I was sadly left very disappointed. The costumes came across as being fairly bland and not really to my liking. Having said that though, unexpectedly I thought King Herod's costume was marvellous. I'm sad to say that I also felt the choreography was a little bland too. It's serviceable, however it left me a little unimpressed. Despite my negative thoughts on those aspects, I thought that the sound design was great. Every note played by all instruments could be easily heard, and each word said by any actor could also be easily heard.

Whilst it did take me a while to get into the show at first, I was extremely impressed with act two, which was full of stunning moments which I am sure to remember. I was very happy to see Tyrone as Judas, and I hope he will continue to do the role, as he is truly an amazing Judas.

The featured star of Jesus Christ Superstar is, drum roll please... TYRONE HUNTLEY!

I cannot praise this performance enough. It's a real shame that Tryone was competing with Andy Karl for the Oliver Award, as Andy Karl is very hard to beat, but hopefully Tyrone's year will come soon!

Now for my final verdict on Jesus Christ Superstar. I give Jesus Christ Superstar...

The music and a great deal of the performances were excellent and would be enough for a four star, however I have chosen three stars due to feeling a little bit let down by the costume design and choreography. There are rumours that this production will head to the West End soon, and if so it would be very interesting to see how they would deal with a different venue. I'll be keeping a close eye to see what happens next with this production!

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