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!

Speed The Plow Playhouse Theatre Review

Sunday, November 23, 2014 0

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ike many people in my generation (am I allowed to say this? Do you have to be of a certain age to refer to ‘your generation’?) I have always rooted for Lindsay Lohan. I’ve loved her ever since the Parent Trap and I’ve not lost hope that she will be all right after all. When news came out that Lindsay was going to do a play in London, I was cautiously excited. That plus the casting of Richard Schiff aka Toby from the West Wing meant that I absolutely had to see Speed the Plow.

I want to start on a positive, I didn’t personally pay for the tickets (my boyfriend did, thanks dear!) and we had excellent seats.

Right, enough about the positive! It’s unfortunate that what I got from Speed the Plow is mediocre performances in a really fundamentally uninteresting play. The first scene dragged so much, I couldn’t believe it had only lasted 35 mins when the interval began. Perhaps with more gifted actors, the material could have been elevated to something engaging, but it was not meant to be. It’s a dry play about a jaded movie executive who temporarily agrees to put his career on the line in order to ‘green-light’ a supposedly good book into a meaningful movie following a night of passion with his ambitious temporary secretary and then changes his mind again. In a word, the entire plot is reset so it ends at the same point that it started on and perhaps that is the point, but as we do not really see the reason for the changes, I didn’t buy any of the character motivation. A play does not need compelling plot or likeable characters in order to be entertaining, but if this is the case at least some killer dialogue would help. What we get is long speeches that I suppose are intended to zing with wit, but which felt flat and uninspiring and downright boring. The characters are are cardboard stereotypes, with not a drop of distinguishing personality and I did not care about or believe any of them.

But enough about the play itself, you are probably wondering about how Lindsay did and oh how wish I could say that she was a diamond in the rough and made it all worthwhile, but unfortunately I can not do that. I was nervously hoping that she would remember her lines, but she messed up the start of her big Act 2 speech and had to get a line fed to her, which in all my years of theatre going I have never before witnessed. It was incredibly awkward and though she recovered reasonably well, it did mean that I was unable to listen or concentrate for at least five minutes. And the rest of her lines she remembered, including the impassioned speech about fear and the end of the world, but that’s as much praise as I can honestly give her. Lindsay’s speech feels rehearsed and what’s worse, there is no chemistry between her and the audience, she leaves us cold and her supposed passion is wholly unconvincing. I’ve always liked her raspy voice and I liked it here, but she hides behind her hair and there is little visible emotion on her face. It’s possible that with a better material, she would have done ok, but elevating David Mamet’s uninspiring play is unfortunately beyond her skills as an actress.

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)