Top 5 Musicals: New to London

Sunday, March 15, 2015 0

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 shared my all time favourite musicals last week, but in reality I don’t actually see that many new musicals, preferring to spend the majority of my theatre going time seeing plays. Nevertheless there are a number of musicals coming out this year in London that I am really REALLY very excited about. These are a mixture of brand new, new to London and revivals and I’ve not seen them before, but I really want to! These should be booked ASAP.

Gypsy

gypsy

I have never seen Gypsy and it’s a classic that I am super excited about, especially following the rave reviews it received at Chichester and Imelda Staunton at the helm. I saw her in Sweeney Todd a few years ago and she was fantastic.

In a sentence: Gypsy is a Sondheim musical from 1959 based on the life of American striptease artist – Gypsy Rose Lee, though it primarily focuses on her mother Rose, the original show business mum, as she and her two daughters travel across the country with their vaudeville act.

Opens: 28th March (oooh exciting, only a few weeks away!)

Where: The Savoy Theatre

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone simple logoI love the movie and have loved the musical ever since we did it at school when I was 12 years old and the boy I had a massive crush on played the title role. It also saw it at Secret Cinema and it was my first Secret Cinema experience and as such the most awe inspiring, so I have very fond memories of hiding under the table with my friend whilst a mighty custard pie battle raged above us.

In a sentence: Bugsy Malone is set during the prohibition where two rival gangs (of children!) fight a turf war with custard guns and really if that doesn’t convince you, I am not sure if anything will.

Opens: 11th April

Where: Lyric (Hammersmith)

Carrie

carrie musical

I didn’t even know there was a musical version of Carrie, in fact I’ve read the book (and all those years later, I still have a vivid memory of the first few pages, you should check it out if you haven’t) but not seen either of the movies. This is the first time the musical is showing in London since it’s original production, which was a spectacular flop. It transferred to Broadway and closed only just a handful of shows at a huge financial loss! However, I think that the Southwark Playhouse sounds like the right home for it and I am very curious to see it.

In a sentence: Carrie is a bullied teenage girl with a magical secret, and there is a lot of blood, I mean it’s Stephen King, so definitely not one for the squeamish.

Opens: 1st May (Only on for 1 month!)

Where: Southwark Playhouse (This is one of my favourite venue for off West End musicals)

Bend it Like Beckham

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Oh my god, this is one of my favourite movies, one which I have seen countless of times and as such the news that it’s being made into a musical has made me super happy. Really can’t wait for this one, I have very high hopes for it and from what I’ve read it sounds like it will meet my expectations. Also, the cast is perfect!

In a sentence: Bend it like Beckham is about a girl that happens to be awesome at playing football, much to the dismay of her fairly traditional Indian family and the obstacles she has to navigate on the path to following her dreams. (Sounds cheesy, but it’s epic, trust me.)

Opens: 15th May

Where: Phoenix Theatre

Kinky Boots

kinky boots simple logoI was very tempted to see this on Broadway when I was in New York last year, where it won 6 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, but resisted because of the news that is going to open in the West End. It sounds seriously fun. Also googling it just now I discovered that there is also a movie! With Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role of Lola! Must see this.

In a sentence: Kinky Boots is based on true events and tells the story of a man who inherits a shoe factory from his dad, to save the business he begins an unlikely partnership with Lola, a cabaret performer and drag queen.

Opens: 21 August

Where: Adelphi Theatre

Am I missing anything?! Comment and let me know!

Top 5 Musicals: The Starter Pack

Sunday, March 8, 2015 2

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get asked for theatre recommendations by friends and family fairly often. It sends me into a sort of panic that is usually reserved for realising you’ve left your phone at home or you have your phone, but you are running late and the maps aren’t loading. Yes, I am pretty reliant on my phone and yes, I go to the theatre often and I see a lot. Knowing what is showing is not the problem, but knowing what would appeal to you without playing 21 questions first is and not to mention the expectations that my recommendation has to be good, which is pretty weighty. It’s especially worse when someone is visiting London and wants to see a show, by which they mean a big flashy musical.

There are so many to pick from and it can be overwhelming, so for my own sanity and so that I have a go to place next time someone asks, I am going to share my favourite musicals that are currently playing in London. A sort of starter pack for the uninitiated. If you occasionally see a musical, chances are you would have seen most of these. This list isn’t for you. (But my next post will be, so come back in a few days!) If you haven’t seen these, but would like to, there is hope for you yet.

Les Miserables

No musical rec list can exist without Les Mis. It’s the world’s longest running musical for a reason, it’s epic in the true sense of the word and seriously awesome. I may be speaking as someone that has the soundtrack on her phone (it honestly brightens my daily commute) but you can trust me. If you are a history buff, just remember that musicals are not known for their historical accuracy and let it go.. (wrong musical, but you get the point). Just writing about it is enough to get “Do you hear the people sing” in my head, where it’s likely to stay for hours.

Note: It’s not one I would recommend taking small children to, because they won’t like it and the people sitting near you will not like you.

The Lion King

This one you can take small children to, but I would also recommend it to big adults, it’s a wonderful magical show that is seriously memorable. And unless you live under a rock, (instead of on one…geddit? Sorry.) you will probably be familiar with at least half the songs. The first time I saw it I was 12 years old (I remember clearly sitting in the stalls and having the animals walking right by me) the last time was last year on my 28th birthday. It has a great soundtrack for climbing a mountain, but it works equally well when driving up one if you are less athletically inclined.

The Book of Mormon

One for the boys. Not that girls won’t love it, but this is a good one for taking someone who mistakenly believes they don’t like musicals. It is funny and rude and catchy and it will probably change their mind. If it doesn’t then make sure to take them to the Angus Stakehouse across the road for a debrief and that is guaranteed to be the thing they complain about instead. (note to non-Londoners: this is a joke, not a recommendation, avoid an Angus Stakehouse like your life depends on it!)

(For the record, I prefer Avenue Q, but it’s not currently showing.)

Wicked

Wicked is my favourite and I love it and you should love it too. It has a combination of a great and engaging plot, really memorable and spectacular songs, a fabulous set and the comfort and familiarity that comes from knowing the Wizard of Oz. It’s hard for me to be objective, blinded by my love as I am, but I just think that a lot of new musicals only get one of these things right and to see them all is such a treat.

Matilda

Matilda is my favourite of the recent crop of new musicals and the only one that I think will stand the test of time. It’s another one that is great for the whole family and truly magical. If you are picking between that and Charlie and the Chocolate factory, then you should go with the one that is on this list, because it is on this list for a reason. This reason is that it’s great, whilst Charlie is sadly average at best.

That’s it. Please let me know if you agree, and especially if you disagree. Next time I will share the brand new (or just new to London or very old, but recently returned to the London stage) musicals that I am most excited about seeing in the coming months.

Top 5 Reasons to see Made in Dagenham

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 0

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was lucky to nab some last minute tickets to the new musical Made in Dagenham on Friday, I didn’t really know what to expect from it and in general I tend to prefer a small play to a big fancy musical, but this was fun and funny and a great night out that I heartily recommend.

5. The Costumes: The 60s fashion and hair is great. The factory girls all have floral dresses, matching macs and big hair that is seriously fun to behold. The real fashionista is the wife of the Ford manager, who supports the strike, puts together a petition against caning in schools and looks fabulous throughout. As the only wealthy and fashion forward character she has the most costume changes, and they really seem to have fun with her wardrobe. She is introduced wearing a wonderful orange Biba dress that plays a prominent role in the final scene, but my favourite piece is a cream trouser suit, or it could have been a jumpsuit that is early disco fabulous. I kinda wish I could see this again, just to make notes on all the clothes

4. The Sets: like the costumes, the set is by the magnificent Bunny Christie, and as a result an absolute visual feast. The number of sets changes itself is ridiculous and one of the reasons that I do enjoy a big budget musical. The centrepiece is a car seats conveyor belt and push out frames of giant model kits, but I also loved the intricacies of the O’Grady house, with its upright bed, the enormous Big Ben clock face that stands as background to all the Parliament scenes and the insanity of the American song set and the Ford Cortina advert, with all the cars, flags and glitz.

3. The Story: It’s a true story with a very engaging subject matter. Unlike the Pyjama Game, which I enjoyed but felt a bit safe and dated, this is a story about industrial action, about working class women working together to make change happen at great personal cost and sacrifice. It is feminist with a good portrayal of a range of different women, from the politician, to the wealthy highly educated (“I have a double first from Cambridge”) housewife that is looking for a purpose in life to the career unionist who refused to marry for convenience to the various factory workers, a couple of which get a fair bit of personality. Whilst the story is serious, the way it’s told is seriously funny (sorry, I can’t help myself) with so much warmth and love.

2. The Jokes + the politicians: Mark Hadfield plays a hilariously camp and clueless Harold Wilson, whose gags were my favourite and made me laugh out loud a number of times. An attempt at a dramatic exit using the wrong door is a classic for a reason and so well played here. Some jokes fall a bit flat, like the recurring one about Martin Luther King getting shot, but this is a witty show that packs a lot of laughs.

1. Jemma Arterton: I loved Jemma Arterton, as the heart of the story, her role is enormously important, and I think she pulls it off. She is very likeable, keeps the accent even in song and has a much better voice than I expected.

All in all, a fab night out. One thing I didn’t include in my top 5 is the songs itself, which are fun but are not particularly memorable or catchy. (With the exception of ‘Made in Dagenham, Laid in Dagenham’ which was in my head for the entire evening)