Saturday, 30 December 2017

Review: Everybody's Talking About Jamie (December 2017)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
Before seeing it live, I had heard a lot of buzz about this brand new original British musical. It would appear that everyone really is talking about Jamie! When compiling my list of shows to see over Christmas, Everybody's Talking About Jamie was a must-see. Luckily, I got the chance to go and see it several days after Christmas. I loved the originality behind the idea for the story and it is wonderful for the UK to have a successful original musical, something which can be quite a rarity.

The score for Everybody's Talking About Jamie, written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom McRae, is phenomenal. All of the songs that feature in this show are extremely memorable and catchy; they have all remained in my head after several days and I haven't been able to stop singing them. The duo behind this score are clearly extremely talented and I hope they team up to write more shows in the future. My personal favourite's from the score were 'And You Don't Even Know It', 'Over The Top' and 'My Man, Your Boy'. There is something very special about this score and I am really looking forward to the original cast recording being released.

Everybody's Talking about Jamie follows 'Jamie New, a sixteen year old boy from Sheffield with a secret. He doesn't quite fit in at school, his Dad's left home, he's about to sit his GCSEs and the future is terrifying. With his brilliant mum behind him, will Jamie be brave enough to stand up for who he really wants to be?' It is an exceptionally moving tale and I found it to be a real eye-opener. There are many good lessons to be learnt from this story and it embraces those who are unique.

John McCrea is perfectly cast in the role of Jamie New. McCrea is extremely natural when onstage and is very believable in the part. He has a wide range of talents, which is demonstrated by his sensational acting, singing and dancing. John McCrea is a triple threat! Josie Walker, as Margaret New, brings the house down with some absolutely beautiful ballads, showing an exceedingly powerful voice. Josie Walker was mesmerising from beginning to end and I felt really invested in her character's story. Mina Anwar was ideal for the character of Ray, the loving family friend. I really appreciated the comic relief that she brought to the show. Lucie Shorthouse, who portrays Pritti Pasha, had an extraordinary voice. I was stunned when she began singing; I really wasn't expecting her to have such an amazing voice. Additionally, I also thought that she was a very talented actress.

I liked the vast majority of the choreography, however I wasn't so keen on the physical theatre aspects that were added to certain elements of it. I don't believe that physical theatre was needed for this show and it looked somewhat out of place. My main example of this is during the song 'If I Met Myself Again', where the physical theatre is a little bit distracting. I admired the set design, which was created by Anna Fleischle, as it's thoroughly detailed. I was also quite a fan of the lighting design, as it was highly effective during several moments throughout the show.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is something very different to the norm. It covers several important issues and is a musical that London should be proud of!

The featured star of Everybody's Talking About Jamie is, drum roll please... JOHN MCCREA!

There are many stand-out performances in this show, but it is ultimately John McCrea that steals the show. He was captivating from beginning to end and gave a masterclass of a performance! He was full of energy and is a joy to watch.

Now for my final verdict on Everybody's Talking About Jamie. I give Everybody's Talking About Jamie...

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is more than deserving of its 4 star rating. I had a great time and I highly recommend 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

Friday, 29 December 2017

Review: Jack and the Beanstalk

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Since a very young age, I have been to a dozen pantomimes in London, seeing many different stories told (such as Cinderella, Aladdin and Snow White, to name a few). However, despite seeing so many pantomimes over the years, I had never seen a production of Jack and the Beanstalk. This year, the New Wimbledon Theatre (a theatre which is quite local to me) put on the rare panto of Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Al Murray and Clive Rowe, so I gave it a try to see what Wimbledon had to offer. Wimbledon's Jack and the Beanstalk provides a very enjoyable experience, but it seems to lack some of the magic that can usually be found in pantomimes.

Overall, the cast that feature in this production were very talented and I enjoyed many of the performances. At the heart of the cast is Al Murray, who portrays Barman Al. I had heard reports of what Al Murray's comedy was usually like, so I was somewhat skeptical as to whether I would enjoy his performance. Despite this, I ended up being very surprised; he was actually extremely humorous. Al Murray truly comes into his element when he decides to ad-lib. His ad-libs were hilarious, and were a lot funnier than what was scripted. By his side was Clive Rowe as Dame Trot, which was without a doubt the best part of this production. I doubt I would have enjoyed this show nearly as much if Clive Rowe had not been starring in it. Onstage, Rowe has a larger than life personality. He had some great interactions with the audience, and additionally, he also had an exceptionally powerful voice. Al Murray and Clive Rowe made the perfect team and it is clear that they work well together. Jack Trot, performed by Liam Tamne, didn't actually have an extremely large role, which is ironic considering that he is the title character. Despite his limited stage time, the scenes he was in were very good and I was throughly impressed by his singing. It is a shame that Liam Tamne is not given more opportunities to show off his voice. Another stand-out performance was Charlotte Gooch as Princess Apricot. Similar to the role of Jack, Princess Apricot doesn't have an enormous amount of stage time, however Charlotte Gooch still left an impression with her wonderful voice.

The set and costume designs were brilliant; they were a real highlight of the show. There was a clearattention to detail in both the set and the costumes. I liked the large majority of the special effects, with the helicopter and the growing beanstalk at the end of act one being the most effective. Both of these special effects were highly impressive; it was very much a "wow" moment. Sadly though, not all the special effects had the same impact on me. In act two, the show makes use of a 3D screen, which I didn't particularly care for. The 3D wasn't very effectual, and the scene where it was used could have been done a lot better by using puppetry.

As I stated earlier, it is a very enjoyable show, but it seems to lack the magic sometimes found in pantomimes. I believe this issue is largely due to the script. The writer of this show has completely transformed the original Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale, to the point where it is almost unrecognisable. This version features fairies and princesses, which was unnecessary. It would have made for a much better pantomime if the writers had chosen to stick to the original story, with perhaps only one or two minor changes. The direction also seemed a little weak at times.

Despite its flaws, I still really enjoyed this quirky telling of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is by no means perfect and could do with a lot of editing, but it was still a lovely way to celebrate Christmas Eve!

The featured star of Jack and the Beanstalk is, drum roll please... CLIVE ROWE!

I am thrilled that Clive Rowe was cast for this production, because without him I doubt the show would have been as much fun as it was. He was definitely the perfect choice for the role of Dame Trot. He puts tremendous energy into the role and it certainly pays off. I hope to see him again in future pantomimes! 

Now for my final verdict on Jack and the Beanstalk. I give Jack and the Beanstalk...

Despite Jack and the Beanstalk suffering from a few flaws in the writing and direction, its wonderful cast do a great job at making it as enjoyable as possible, which is why I have chosen to award this production 3 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

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Review: Misalliance

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Misalliance.
At the beginning of December, I decided to make a list of theatre shows to see during Christmas, so I researched almost every show playing in London, selecting a few shows that I found to be interesting. Whilst researching, I had a look at what would be playing at local theatres near me, and that is how I stumbled upon Misalliance at the Orange Tree Theatre! After discovering Misalliance, I booked to see it a few days before Christmas. This play turned out to be an absolute treat and I am delighted that I got the chance to watch it.

The cast of Misalliance has a line-up of unbelievably talented actors, each bringing something special to this wonderful production. I adored this production, and the main reason as to why I loved it so much was because of its brilliant cast. Each actor is very well suited to their individual roles, with all of them being tremendously well cast. The casting director should definitely be commended for brining this cast together. There were no weak links whatsoever, all of them were terrific in their own right. They made the perfect team, and through their teamwork, produced an utterly hilarious 2 and a half hours. I could go on and on about this cast; they really were something special when united onstage together.

Misalliance is a satirical comedy about the odd goings on at a country house, featuring themes of socialism and feminism. I found George Bernard Shaw's writing to be hilarious; it certainly appealed to my sense of humour. There were several moments throughout the play whereby I was laughing my head off. Misalliance is an excellently written piece. I appreciated the fact that the political themes within the play were very subtle, as opposed to plays like An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestley where the meaning of it is too obvious.

The direction by Paul Miller was excellent. Despite the play being written over 100 years ago, through his excellent skills Miller has been able to give Misalliance a new lease of life. The set was fairly simple, yet I found it to be effectual. I was extremely impressed with the costume design, which was utterly perfect for the time period in which the play is set. The costumes are very helpful to the show when trying to transport them to the 1910's.

This production left a big impact on me; it was magnificent! It is to date my favourite production at the Orange Tree Theatre of all time. Misalliance has a cast full of amazing actors and I hope to see all of them in future productions. Misalliance ends on the 20th January, so don't miss your chance to see it before it ends!

The featured star of Misalliance is, drum roll please... RHYS ISAAC-JONES!

Each of the cast members in Misalliance are more than worthy of the tile of 'Featured Star'. It took me a great deal of time to actually choose someone; it was far from easy. It was not clear to me who I should choose and I was torn with this decision. However, in the end I chose Rhys Issac-Jones, who portrayed Bentley Summerhays. Rhys is one of the first characters to enter the stage, and in the first few minutes he already leaves a big impact on the audience. He delivered every line perfectly and was hysterically funny. 

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

At the interval after act one, I wasn't quite sure weather I would end up awarding Misalliance a 3 star rating or a 4 star rating. However, after act two my mind was made up. This revival of Misalliance definitely deserves its 4 star rating, due to its phenomenal acting and witty writing!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Review: Big Fish

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Big Fish.
Stage and screen star Kelsey Grammer is one of my favourite actors of all time. When it was announced that he would be making his London theatre debut this Autumn, I certain did not want to miss it so we booked our tickets far in advance. I was ecstatic to see Kelsey Grammer performing live onstage and was counting down the days until I saw Big Fish.

Big Fish follows the story of William Bloom, a young man who is facing the imminent death of his father, the travelling salesman Edward Bloom. As his father lies on his deathbed, William recalls their time together and comes to realise that he wasn’t the impulsive liar he believed he was, and develops an understanding of Edward’s exaggerations. I was extremely moved by the story that Big Fish told and by the end of the show I was an emotional wreck. I felt like I went on such a journey throughout the 2 and a half hours of the show; I was in tears by the end! I was so invested in the character's lives and I found myself really caring about them. The storyline that Big Fish follows is one that I imagine many can relate to and that it is why it is bound to have such an emotional impact on its audience. Having said that, Big Fish is also filled with many comedy moments, which is what makes the show an emotional roller-coaster. You'll be laughing one minute, and then crying the next! I recently read a review which called Big Fish's storyline 'contrived', however I found it to be both meaningful and heartfelt.

The musical score of Big Fish, composed by Andrew Lippa, is wonderful. There are some absolutely beautiful melodies and many memorable turns within the show. I adored all of the songs in Big Fish, however my personal highlights were 'Fight the Dragons', 'I Don't Need a Roof' and 'How It Ends'. I have downloaded the Original Broadway Cast Recoring of Big Fish and it has been great to re-live the show again through listening to the music.

Kelsey Grammer was perfect for the role of Edward Bloom. As Edward Bloom, Grammer captured the audience's hearts. The role of Edward Bloom requires quite a range of skills from the actor portraying him, which luckily Kelsey Grammer does have. Being such a fan of his work, it was thrilling to watch him live onstage! Sharing the role of Edward Bloom, was Jamie Muscato, who plays Edward in his earlier years. Jamie Muscato's performance was full of so much energy from beginning to end and he really brought the character to life. He has an exceptionally large stage presence and I would deem his performance as captivating. Matthew Seadon-Young portrayed Will Bloom, the son of Edward Bloom. I thought that Matthew Seadon-Young's performance contrasted very nicely with Kelsey Grammer's performance and this helped to make the conflict between the two characters (father and son) very understandable. Additionally, I thought that Matthew had a superb voice. Forbes Masson, who portrays Amos and Don was utterly hilarious and provided the audience with lots of comic relief. I saw Forbes Masson in The Ruling Class in the West End over 2 years ago, and seeing him perform again now, I believe that he is one of the most versatile actors I have seen on a London stage. The rest of the cast in Big Fish are also all phenomenal and there are no weak links among them.

I really like The Other Palace, where Big Fish is situated, however I personally believe that Big Fish would perhaps benefit from moving to a larger venue. Being in a larger venue would allow for the expansion of the set design, and that would be extremely helpful when carrying out certain aspects of the story. I hope that there could be a transfer to a larger West end venue at some point in the future, and if so, I would definitely return to see it.

The creative aspects that stood out were undoubtedly the direction and the choreography; neither of which could be faulted in the slightest. Both the direction and the choreography of Big Fish were excellent!

The featured star of Big Fish is, drum roll please... JAMIE MUSCATO!

Featured star was a tough battle between Kelsey Grammer and Jamie Muscato. Both actors gave equally deserving performances and it was an extremely difficult choice to make. However, I chose Jamie in the end due to his larger than life stage presence. Jamie Muscato was filled with energy throughout and gave an utterly mesmerizing performance. 

Now for my final verdict on Big Fish. I give Big Fish...

I understand why Big Fish may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I adored it. I was so moved by this story and I really felt that I had connected with several of the characters. I would love to see it again someday!

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