Category Archives: Musical

Review Crazy For You, UK Tour by Vicky Lord

 

4 Stars4 / 5

 

This week I embarked on something new. I went to see one of my mum’s original favourite musicals. Crazy For You is considered to be ‘the last of the Gershwins’ light hearted musicals’ and started life over 80 years ago, first appearing in the 1930s. After a lengthily history, including a name change from Girl Crazy, Crazy For You opened on Broadway in 1992 and has now been revived in the UK for a brand new, star studded tour which started in August 2017 in Plymouth after a run at The Watermill Theatre in July 2016.

My mum originally saw this production with my Grandmother when Ruthie Henshall performed the part of Polly and she was very excited to relive the experience at one of my favourite theatres, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. However, I went into this production completely blind. I vaguely knew of a couple of the songs but I knew nothing of the story or setting so I was interested to see what I would make of a ‘traditional’ musical considering that my taste mainly draws me to shows like Wicked, Jekyll and Hyde and Phantom of the Opera.

Despite going in blind to the story of this show I was certainly familiar with the cast. Tom Chambers plays the enthusiastic, lovelorn dancer Bobby Child who spearheads the effort to save a theatre from his mother’s bank. Chambers’ performance in my opinion encapsulates the heart of the original production of Crazy For You. He does this through his outstanding tap dancing and his comedic timing, which is vital for this script as it holds so much humour, had me laughing from start to finish. He feels so authentic in this part that I truly can’t imagine anyone else playing this role.

Despite being the leading man, I feel that Tom Chambers was accidently overtaken by his leading lady. Charlotte Wakefield, coming from a successful touring stint as Truly Scrumptious after taking over from Carrie Hope Fletcher in the UK tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, stole the show from all of the other principles in my opinion as she demonstrated that she can sing, dance and act as the head strong but sensitive Polly Baker. I only wish that there were more opportunities to hear her wonderful belting ability. Polly was by far my favourite character in this show and Wakefield is, in my opinion, the perfect actress to bring her to life. I would recommend this show to anyone simply to see Wakefield’s performance alongside Cambers.

However, Polly highlights the one fault I have with Bobby’s characterisation within the show. During songs such as ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘But Not For Me’ the audience are treated to an in depth look into Polly’s thoughts and feelings which gives her depth as she reviles that her inner self is more sensitive than her tough exterior. On the other hand, I feel that this insight is missing from Bobby’s characterisation. This absence is mainly felt during ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’. Prior to this song, during the New York Interlude, Bobby is given the New York theatre. This song shows Bobby’s realisation that he really wants to go back to Hard Rock and Polly and at the end he rips the deed to the theatre to shreds. However, his specific desire to give up the theatre seems strange as it is only his love of Polly which is referred to throughout the song. Considering that all Bobby wants to do is dance and his possible conflict between owning the theatre and chasing his love seems underdeveloped here.

Caroline Flack is another star name heading up the cast as Irene Roth. I was not surprised at all to see her name on the cast list given her dancing experience shown on Strictly Come Dancing. She also sat in the centre of Irene’s character as a spoilt, demanding fiancée to Bobby, despite some sketchy details as to how she actually gained that title. However, I simply wish that her character was given more detail and bite. As I said, the details of how she came to call herself Bobby’s fiancée is sketchy so I would have loved to have seen that story be given far more discussion in the show as both Bobby and Irene switch from lover to lover throughout the show. Irene’s lack of detail and bite are combined in Irene’s relationship with Lank Hawkins. I was expecting them to become a couple in a plan to scupper Bobby and Polly’s attempts to save the theatre and this plot point is actually referenced by Irene but then it simply disappears. The two do eventually get married but their reasoning and Lank’s threat to the theatre are phased out completely. This was quite disappointing for me and I was sad to see that it also seeped into Flack’s performance of ‘Naughty Baby’. In this number Irene seems to shift from hating Lank to wanting him quite randomly simply because her intentions are not mentioned. This did not provide Flack with any opportunity to put some real intention into this song and her singing and even dancing seemed a little flat and soft, which did not fit with the cunning, sharp nature of the song.

I have saved one of the best aspects of this production for last. The ensemble is incredible. I cannot overstate how talented they are. Not only do they all sing, act as individual characters and obviously dance to the level of Tom Chambers and Charlotte Wakefield but they also are the orchestra. Each member of the ensemble plays multiple instruments throughout the show with no sheet music present, ever. This astounded me and I loved this original iconic aspect of the show. I must admit that this was slightly distracting during some songs because all I wanted to do was watch the violinists but there are plenty of songs where they are fully integrated into the staging. This production shows a true collaboration between Diego Pitarch’s set and the ensemble’s function as the orchestra. I loved the theatre set piece as it moved between the two locations of the show but it also fully integrated the instruments into the piece. The set and lighting add another level of polish to this production.

Overall, I had a lovely time seeing this show and I would give it four stars. The comedic script is right up my street and the gorgeous sets and lighting highlighted the dance aspect to create a treat for the eyes. While I feel some aspects of the story and characterisation could have been improved, the true stars of the show, Charlotte Wakefield and the ensemble acting as the orchestra, truly blew me away. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to try out this intriguing production and to give my mum the chance to see one of her favourite shows brought into the 21st century of theatrical production.

Crazy For You, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

05 Sep – 09 Sep 2017
Starring Tom Chambers, Caroline Flack and Charlotte WakefieldTickets: £17.50 – £49.50 (£19 – £51*)
Age Guidance: 6+ (No under 2s)

Running Time: approximately 2 hours 35 minutes including an interval

 

Shows to see this autumn.

The team at Get the Chance choose their own personal highlights of autumn 2017

Gareth Williams

Kate Rusby

Storyhouse, Chester.

Kate Rusby is the undisputed queen of English folk music. With her immense songwriting ability and beautiful voice to match, she is undeniably one of Yorkshire’s greatest treasures. This short 25th anniversary tour will see her delve into an extensive back catalogue of songs. She will also perform material from her latest album Life in a Paper Boat. She demonstrates, time and again, an unrivalled knack for producing new and inventive interpretations in the folk tradition whilst remaining faithful to its roots. She has such a down-to-earth and whimsical personality that is gently infectious. Instantly likeable, this comes across naturally in her oft-acoustic performances. If you are looking for the perfect soundtrack to a clear autumn night under the stars, look no further. Within the close and intimate setting of Chester’s brand-new theatre, this will be a magical evening with one of England’s brightest and best musicians.

Helen Joy

Benny

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

Benny Hill was fun, Sunday evening viewing when I was growing up.

His programme was a silly, light-hearted view of the world through the eyes of some potty characters.

I don’t recall any sense of malice behind the scenes and I often refer in life as having the Benny Hill theme tune running behind it…

However, times have changed. It feels as if everything we grew up with in the 1970s has to be disregarded at best, vilified at worst. Sometimes with good reason.

I am curious. Who was the man behind the little round specs? Why do we judge the past, our past, so sternly?

Karis Clarke

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Theatr Clwyd,Mold.

Little Voice at Theatre Clwyd. I am a fan of musicals in general and enjoyed the movie version with Jean Horricks. My appetite has already been wetted with the theatre showing tweets of the large cast taking residence in the theatre.

Gemma Treharne Foose

Wizard of Oz Orchestra (St David’s Hall), I am a Poetato (Sherman Theatre), Slava’s Snowshow (Wales Millennium Centre) and finally – Aladdin (Park and Dare).

My choices this Autumn are all family choices, I see a lot of shows by myself but for me the absolute best experience is seeing my daughter get completely absorbed in theatre and enjoy it as an art form. Her highlights so far over the last year have been Hairspray at the WMC, the Borrowers and the Hunting of the Snark at the Sherman. Slowly, I’m expanding the type of shows she sees to include poetry and dance – but I think musicals are our absolute favourite! I feel lucky to have so much amazing family theatre on our doorstep – and we feel it’s not really Christmas unless we’ve seen Frank Vickery dressed as a pantomime dame at the Park and Dare – that always tops off the year for me and puts a spring in my step! During the last panto at the Park and Dare, the two dames had my husband up on stage dancing and taking selfies with him, my daughter was delighted – I think it’ll be hard to top that one!

Donna Poynton

Follies

NT Live

I love the concept of National Theatre Live; bringing top quality theatre to the masses without the cost of a trip to London and a full price ticket. Live broadcasts from our local cinemas immerse us in the theatre’s atmosphere and allow us to view productions that may previously have been off our radar.

Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical follows the Follies girls (played in this production by Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton) thirty years after their final performance at the Weisman Theatre in New York as they gather to share drinks, tell stories and sing a few songs (accompanied by a 21 piece orchestra!)

With a fabulous score and stellar cast I am excited to see this NT Live production this November.

Lauren Ellis Stretch

hang

The Other Room, Cardiff.

The home of Cardiff’s first fringe theatre, The Other Room are continuously showcasing sharp, fearless, contemporary theatre. debbie tucker green’s ‘hang’ premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2015, the piece will be making its Welsh debut with a cast of exceptional, home-grown talent. It’s one not to be missed!

Barbara Elin

Rip it Up

St Davids Hall, Cardiff.

I’ll be seeing Rip it Up in St Davids Hall on 9th October, it features Strictly stars Jay McGuinness, Louis Smith and Natalie Lowe – I’ve been a Strictly fan for ever and Jay and Louis were both my favourites of their respective years, and now they’re in Cardiff I can’t resist the chance to see them live.

Debbie Johnson

The Cherry Orchard

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.


The Cherry Orchard at the Sherman. I’ve chosen it in the first instance because (too many) years ago it was my set text in A-level Theatre Studies. I found it really challenging, and eventually rewarding when it ‘clicked’.  The idea of Gary Owen adapting this play feels like an absolute minefield-which I am sure with Rachel O’Riordan’s direction will bring something to the stage which would make any student now picking up the text completely inspired.

Emily Garside

Heisenberg

Wyndham’s Theatre , Covent Garden

I’m excited to see this new play from Simon Stephens (which had it’s debut last year in New York) not only because a new play by Simon Stephens is always worth seeing, but because this is the first production from Harper-Elliot Productions. With director Marianne Elliot at the helm this new prodcution company sees Elliot (previously artistic associate at the National Theatre) promising to put women’s stories at the forefront. For this play in particular I’m excited to see this multi-layered play about the nature of relationships with the brilliantly talented Anne Marie Duff in the central role.

Charlotte Clark

Wind in the Willows

Sherman Theatre,Cardiff.

I am  looking forward to seeing The Wind in the Willows this autumn at Sherman Theatre. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a classic that I love and would love to see performed on stage. Secondly, as a Cardiff student, Sherman Theatre is a very practical location for me as it is close by and therefore makes it easy for me to see something local. Thirdly, as it is a Christmas time production it falls perfectly for me amongst my other workloads and commitments; by Christmas time I will have the holidays to commit to my university work and so won’t have too many deadlines to stress me out!

Vicky Lord

Blood Brothers

New Theatre, Cardiff.

I’ve chosen this performance not only because it is a production with absolutely stunning music. This production really does show the vital importance of story and character in combination with the music. I love the story of twins who are born and died on the self-same day. However, my favorite character is the narrator as he represents an amazing opportunity to really dig deep into the symbolism of certain aspects of the story. This is also one of the first productions which I reviewed last time it came to Cardiff’s New Theatre. It was also Marti Pellow’s performance in this production which really showed me the symbolic potential of not just the narrator but of characters and theatre as a whole.

Danielle O’Shea

Cilla The Musical

New Theatre, Cardiff.

Cilla the musical at the New Theatre in Cradiff. I am going to see this production as the reaction to the death of Cilla Black showed how valued she is in contemporary British culture.

Catherine Parkinson

John Hegley The Sherman Theatre
Slava’s Snow Show The Wales Millennium Centre

John Hegley The Sherman Theatre
Slava’s  Snow Show The Wales Millennium Centre

Review: King Cetshwayo, The Musical, Theatr Brycheiniog by Helen Joy

4 Stars4 / 5

 

The opening night of any performance is usually pretty interesting This was something else. A royal visit, the hands of conciliation shaking across the decades, the welcome of the Welsh to the Zulus, the acknowledgement of the times past and present with no apology.

I cannot say that it was a comfortable feeling in the room when the British role in the taking of Zululand was portrayed. The massacre of British forces at Rorke’s Drift promptly followed by the razing of the villages and the kidnapping of the King. An unrecorded conversation between Queen Victoria and King Cetshwayo and his return to South Africa.

Some of us in the audience dared to laugh at what that conversation may have comprised, given the dear Queen’s proclivities! This lightened an otherwise confused response to a musical storytelling which did not portray our Empirical desires in a good light. But a portrayal generous enough to acknowledge the bravery of soldiers on either side. Bold enough to openly regard a mutual respect for the field of battle and conquest.

Beautiful in its dance scenes, fearsome in its warring, acute in its narration – comic in its mimicry of the gun-carrying redcoats. The skin-prickling returning cries of warriors in the audience. The poet. The costumes. The toe-tapping music. The beat. The heat.

This was a slightly chaotic, slightly shambolic, utterly brilliant rendering of a terrible business all round.

A theatre packed with dignitaries and artists; and the men stand for the Queen. A queen surrounded by family and protected by warriors. Splendid and significant, she spoke of their visit as an advance party whose report back would determine any subsequent visit by the King. I get that. This is not easy political fayre.

Dorcas Cresswell and her team should be applauded for their efforts in bringing these extraordinary and important events together in ways accessible to all of us. It was refreshing not to hear apology for events long past but acknowledgement; commemoration not dismissal. Art and theatre expressing easily subjects otherwise difficult to discuss openly.

I hope I shall never forget seeing Zulu warriors hop on a bus in central Brecon. I have a feeling I might not be alone in this. Never underestimate the impact of a well-placed assegai.

As part of this series of events you can still catch the event below

Now – end of October: Sibanye – Brecon Welcomes the Zulu’s!

Free, non-ticketed exhibition in the Andrew Lamont Gallery, top floor of Theatr Brycheiniog.

An exhibition of photographs that were taken during a visit in January 2017 to KwaZulu-Natal by five members of The Friends of The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh, Brecon.

The visit was by invitation of KwaCulture – an organisation based in Durban and the visit coincided with the annual commemoration of the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift which took place in January 1879.

The exhibition is part of the King Cetshwayo 135th Celebrations in Wales, August 2017 that has been organised by The Friends of The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum in partnership with KwaCulture and Maluju Charity.

The Andrew Lamont Gallery is open during Theatr opening hours and is fully accesable via the lift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Hairspray, Wales Millennium Centre – By Eloise Stingemore

5 Stars5 / 5

Hairspray is back and bigger than Tracy Turnblad’s hair. It’s louder than the Corny Collins show at full volume. It’s a big bouffant of a musical!

Set in 1962 Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even a bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV with The Nicest Kids In Town. Tracys audition not only makes her a local celebrity, she sends sales of Ultra Clutch Hairspray through the roof and bags local heartthrob Link Larkin. However, when Tracy uses her newfound fame to fight for equality, it puts her at loggerheads with Velma Von Tussle the producer of the show but also mother of the show’s “star” teenager, Amber Von Tussle, jeopardising her place on the show and her freedom.

From the opening vamp of “Good Morning Baltimore,” to the final chorus of the finale, “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” the shows score a mixture of bubble-gum pop to rhythm and blues is irresistibly catchy. Rebecca Mendoza shines in her professional debut as Tracy whereas Edward Chitticks plays Link Larkin with the right amount of cool that manages to capture your attention and make your heart flutter every time he is on stage. As for Layton Williams who is best known as Stephen Carmichael in the hit BBC Three show Bad Education, he presents a dazzling array of dance skills all whilst crafting a touching relationship with Liard-Bailey’s Penn. However, it is the coupling of Mat Rixon and Norman Pace as Edna and Wilburn Turnblad that gives the show a fantastic comic spark. Their duet of “Your Timeless To Me” was delivered to perfection and Pace body language had the audience in stitches, which makes it shame that the audience saw so little of the two together during Kerryson’s production.

The show features an impressive variety of costumes by Takis from the fabulous ’60s fashions Tracy and Edna get from “Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway”, to Corny’s comical red sequinned suit, and, of course, the giant hairdos sprayed with the titular product. However, Takis’ reliance on a projected backdrop to capture the Civil Rights protests meant at times the stage felt slightly bare but nevertheless did an excellent way of demonstrating the two sides to American society at the time.

Hairspray is full of colour, soul and free spirit that defined the 60s. It is the ultimate feel good show and judging by the amount of smiles in the foyer as people left the venue they didn’t want the beat to end.

Hairspray opened in Cardiff on August 16, 2017, with a tour around the UK until June 2018. Tour dates and ticket information available can be found here: http://www.hairsprayuktour.com/tour-dates/

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: ‘HAIRSPRAY’ BY GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

4 Stars4 / 5

If you’ve toyed with the idea of seeing Hairspray on stage but doubted whether anyone could top Ricki Lake’s original 1988 portrayal of Tracy  – or indeed Nikki Blonsky’s 2007 film version, you really needn’t worry.

The new stage version of Hairpray brought to you by producers Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Laurence Myers will delight new and old fans from start to finish.

The show hasn’t lost an ounce of its popularity, having first swept the board at the Tony Awards on Broadway in 2002 and the more recent film version introducing a new generation of fans to the musical and original film.

Set in 1960s Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad dreams of  a starring role as one of the teenage dancers on the popular Corny Collins show – a cheeseball TV format of young beautiful things dancing and miming to the latest pop / rock n roll records.

Already at a disadvantage due to her shape, she encounters the realities of colour segregation rife in Baltimore and the US at the time. Only white teenagers were allowed to dance on the show, apart from ‘Negro Day’ every other Friday.

Based on real events with the real ‘Buddy Deane Show’, on which Hairspray was based, the story sees Tracy lead a group of friends to storm the TV studio and force the live broadcasting of integrated dancing, leading a protest against colour segregation and challenging preconceived ideas about women of shape at the same time.

The show is perfectly aided by a riot of technicolour staging and costume courtesy of TAKIS, while Drew McOnie’s superb vintage choreography will have your heart fluttering and your foot tapping.

But the story reminds us that for all the iconic fashions, bubble-gum scented nostalgia and fondness for the golden era of pop and rock and roll, black Americans were denied basic civil rights across America.

Such was the power and divisiveness of segregation, we see ‘seemingly nice’ young all-American kids suddenly spewing hatred and vitriol when the status quo is challenged.  Underneath the petticoats and the chucks and the varsity jackets and polite manners, there is suddenly spite and anger.

Hairspray is gently subversive, poking fun at the idiocy, prejudice and fear at the heart of  white America. What’s all the more cutting is the reminder that while the 60s may seem far away, the lurking presence of racism is rearing it’s ugly head again in the US.  

Two years ago I used Hairspray (the movie) as a vehicle to talk about civil rights and race in America in the 60s with my little girl.  Suddenly, it’s time to return to that ugly, awkward conversation.  We’re at a crossroads once again – because ‘nice guys’ in middle America are waving around swastika flags and white hoods.   

It’s not too hard to believe that the ‘nice polite white kids’ at the Corny Collins dance might have been the same kids lining up to shout abuse at kids entering the first integrated schools or kicking off at the lunch counters they thought were their domain when black protesters sat in ‘their place’.

So as an audience we laugh when Penny Pingleton’s Mum screams when she finds her daughter in bed with a black boy and shrieks ‘But what about the neighbours….the house prices!?’, when her deep-rooted instinct is to flinch/cower when Seaweed gives her a hug or when others gasp with horror as Tracy Turnblad admits she WOULD swim in an integrated swimming pool.

In some shape or form, we’ve all encountered the tropes and the stereotypes surrounding integration and mixed heritage relationships. We’ve rolled our eyes at the staggering lack of awareness even the nicest of people have, just like those kids at the hop in the ‘Nicest kids in town’ song in the first act.

I was overjoyed to once again see Layton Williams (in the role of Seaweed) at the WMC, who previously slayed in the role of Angel Dumott Schunard in RENT earlier this year. I’ve decided it is utterly impossible to take your eyes off him whenever he is on stage.  Former X Factor contestant Brenda Edwards was spellbinding as Motormouth Maybelle, with vocals that shook the rafters and I loved Annalise Liard-Bailey’s squeaky/dorky portrayal of Penny.  Ensemble cast member Graham Macduff was also hilarious in all his guises.  

As anyone who’s seen the 2007 film adaptation of Hairspray will tell you – you can never unsee the sight of John Travolta in a dress, but Matt Rixon and Norman Pace (of ‘Hale and Pace’) had a wonderful on-stage presence together and clearly enjoyed each other’s company

Hairspray recognises the ridiculousness of racism, blinds it with sequins and deafens these ugly faults with a soundtrack of rock n roll, pop, cha-cha-cha and motown.  

It calls racism out for what it is and still dares you to believe that the future will be different.  It’s hammy, it’s cheesy, it’s sweet and it’s a glitter bomb of cherry-cola scented joy.

Review: Grease, WMC By Eloise Stingemore

 

5 Stars5 / 5

 

The T-Birds and the Pink Ladies are in the building; Grease has arrived at the Millennium Centre! Featuring everyone’s favourite characters – Sandy, Danny, the sassy Pink Ladies and the groovy T-Birds, the whole gang is back together at Rydell High along with all the unforgettable songs of 1978 hit movie. The original high school musical is back and better than ever!

A talented cast comprising of Tom Parker, from the UK’s top boy band The Wanted as tough boy Danny Zuko, Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope as Sandy, Strictly Come Dancing’s Louisa Lytton as Rizzo and Jimmy Osmond as Teen Angel. Gave it their all as they transported us back to 1950s high-school America for a tale of true love going off the rails before finally getting back on track.

Director David Gilmore production of this well loved film is truly electrifying; neon signs, fireworks, numerous costume changes, and the car that magically transforms into a glittermobile kept the narrative flowing at a good pace. Whereas from the opening overture, the band that were clearly visible up and behind the stage were on fire, encouraging audience participation as it played through some of the shows big hits. While former Strictly Come Dancing judge, Arlene Philips, toe-tapping choreographer made you want to get out off your seat and hand jive the night away whilst shouting, ‘A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop, a-wop-bam-boom’!

Tom Parker impresses as he makes his musical theatre debut playing Danny and Danielle Hope plays Sandy beautifully. Louisa Lytton made a suitably fierce Rizzo, whereas the arrival of charismatic Jimmy Osmond as Teen Angel in the second half took the show into another stratosphere as it neared its Grease mega mix finale.

Gilmore production of this well loved classic leaves your face aching from smiling and your hands from clapping. Grease is still very much the word!

You have until Saturday 29 July to see the show. Tickets are available online and over the phone by calling 029 2063 6464.

Top Tunes with Rhiannon White

Hi Rhiannon great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

So a bit of background – I’m a Cardiff born, Cardiff based theatre director. I mainly work with my theatre company Common Wealth but I also work on freelance stuff which has ranged from taking a circus to Gaza to making a show on a beach.

Home

The work I make is socially engaged, often political and site specific – we find interesting places to stage our shows in the past we have made shows in houses,boxing gyms, courtrooms and now we’re making our new show in a huge industrial warehouse.

I grew up in Cardiff, St.Mellons – I’ve got a deep sense of love and pride for this city and the incredible people that I know here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, this city gives me the fuel I need to spark and fuel my imagination. I love the magic of this city.

 

I think it was growing up in St.Mellons that got me into theatre. We didn’t have very much growing up but what we did have is loads of kids to play with. I spent my childhood playing in the street, dressing kids up in my mums old clothes and on plays on in the garden. I think that’s where my DIY spirit came from in those early lessons of making the most of what you’ve got.

My company Common Wealth grew out of those roots – we were a group of people that came together to make theatre. We started with nothing, making shows in large empty buildings, without funding and with the generosity of people who wanted to get involved.

Over the years Common Wealth has grown, we’ve made work in many different places, with incredible groups of people and are now working on shows in places like Chicago and Germany. Currently I am working on a new co-production with National Theatre Wales called We’re Still Here – I’m mega excited, it’s our first big show in Wales, staged in an epic former industrial warehouse and inspired by the incredible Save Our Steel Campaign.

https://nationaltheatrewales.org/were-still-here

This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?

Currently I’m listening to Kojey Radical’s album 23winters – he’s a London spoken word, grime artist. I’m loving it because it’s so poignant and powerful it feels like a new genre, he’s also a visual artist so he’s fusing all these different forms together. He’s a powerful man, full of real energy and rooted in his truth. I respect that.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?

The Holy Bible, Manic Street Preachers

This album changed my life, bit cheesy but it did. I discovered it when I was in school and it was one of those ones that spoke to me about who I was, it helped me make sense of the world. It’s genius, I’d go as far to say they’re some of the best lyrics ever written.

Drunken Lullabies. Flogging Molly

I love punk. I love how fierce it can be and that you can loose yourself dancing to it and let everything go. This song is particularly special to me, it’s a song me and my friends used to sing early hours of the morning as the sun was rising. It reminds me of a friend that passed away, Daniel Griffiths. It reminds me of the wild times.

The 4th Branch, Immortal Technique

I also love hip hop, especially it’s conscious, political and says things that we rarely hear. Immortal Technique is an independent rapper in America who refuses record deals, he holds his own. This song particularly resonates with me because it’s about the Palestinian struggle, it captures the situation in all it’s horrific truth. When I was travelling in Palestine this was a soundtrack for me, in a strange way it gave me hope that someone was writing music about it and that was reaching people that might not know.

Immortal Technique

Shame, Young Fathers

Young fathers live. Wow, I dont have the words. I saw these guys at Clwb Ifor Bach, I had no idea and instantly fell in love with their music, I’d never heard anything like it in my life. Shame – has had a massive influence on my work, I use it in most of my workshops, it’s urgency really inspires me. I LOVE the video too.

Let them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest

Kate’s a force of nature an important artist of our times – she always pops up at the right time, she inspires the shit out of me and puts me back on track. She’s a friend of mine and I’ve loved seeing her grow and smash it over the years. She’s reminds me to be true to myself, the past and to not apologise.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

It would have to be Shame, it makes me feel alive and full of fire. It’s a song you can run, dance, scream and shout too. That’s important to me.

Many thanks for your time

Review Funny Girl, WMC by Eloise Stingemore

 

5 Stars5 / 5

 

Sheridan Smith makes a joyous return to theatre in the role of Fanny Brice, for the first leg of the UK tour, after a celebrated run in the West End, bringing her own brand of exuberant mischief and spiritual warmth to the role.

Funny Girl is a bio-musical albeit more fiction that fact about the popular American singer-actress and comedian who was long associated with the Ziegfeld Follies. One of the biggest stars of the early 20th century, Brice lit up both Broadway and Hollywood with her comedic style and powerful voice. A hundred years later (1968), Barbra Streisand won an Academy Award for her portal one of America’s greatest clowns and a true icon of both stage and screen.

Smith was more than capable of overcoming the towering memory of Streisand in the central role, which is no mean feat, with her belting vocals, electable comic timing, assured dancing, earned her an unquestioned standing ovation. It is safe to say where audiences admired Streisand they adore Smith. In her hands, the lively Brooklyn joker is an intricate tangle of competing emotions, all covered up with a big, bright, Broadway smile.

The songs, in particular, Smith makes entirely her own, even though her voice isn’t exactly beautiful, it aches with conviction. Her tremendous rendition of People is steeped in yearning but also cut through with defiance. Whereas Don’t Rain on My Parade, Smith avoids brassy rhetoric to suggest a lonely woman exulting in her newfound happiness. All of which helped to strip the layers of armour-plated implacability to make Fanny a more likeable human being.

As for Darius Campbell, despite looking good in a ruffle shirt and singing each note pitch perfect he was unable to find much colour and variety in the one-dimensional character Nick Arnstein, a part made famous on screen by Omar Sharif. The best support for Fanny comes from Rachel Izen as Mrs Brice her aspirational mother and Joshua Lay as her lovingly loyal dance teacher, Eddie Ryan. Whereas the ensemble tap and ballet numbers from the talented cast were a joy to watch, but were ultimately there to simply support a superstar, Smith. Who has the presence and talent to wilt the hardest hearts, and deserves a packed out auditorium for the rest of the run.

 For tour dates and ticket information click here; http://www.funnygirlthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/

 

 

“Why I am a 3rd Act Critic” by Barbara Michaels

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels gives a personal response to being a critic with Get the Chance.

With over half a century of reviewing under my belt, I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about both music and theatre. This was intensified when I got my first job on a local paper. I was eighteen,  as the most junior member of the staff – and the only female in the days when women on newspapers were few and far between. I was expected to cover tasks such as weddings, flower shows and (to my delight) amateur dramatics.

This was a wonderful training ground which led to me covering professional theatre on my second paper. My big break came later, when I was working  freelance and also running a syndication agency. The reviewer covering a first night ballet performance at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden was ill and asked if I could do it. I have always loved dance but had never previously reviewed a dance production so cut my teeth on the Creme de la Creme. To this day dance is my favourite of all the art forms  and – like all the arts – underfunded,  if I had the money (which, as an OAP, I don’t) I would support.

Opera in Wales is still regarded by some as only for the elite. This is far from being the case. Please give it a try! We are so fortunate in Wales to have the WNO – a world-class opera company performing in a wonderful venue. Their production of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, which I reviewed recently, was as near perfection as you are ever likely to see.

Review Der Rosenkavalier, WNO, Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff by Barbara Michaels

Life is busy for me. As well as reviewing I edit a community magazine and last year published my first book for young children, entitled WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH SLITHERS? The publication of the book, shortly;to be featured in a Cardiff book festival, coincided with the birth of my first great granddaughter Chloe Jo, and I am now expecting another great grandchild.

Top Tunes with Emily Garside

Hi Emily great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I’m a writer and researcher with a love for theatre. Having been an academic for several years while writing my PhD I’m now getting back to writing my own plays again too. Born and raised in Cardiff I came back after time in London and Canada and Nottingham and I love being home. I’m a first class nerd, which I take as an absolute compliment. My first theatrical love was musical theatre as I’m sure my music choices show!

I’ve recently written for Dirty Protest in their “Election Night” event as well as had pieces on at the Southwark Playhouse. My most recent work “Party Like it’s 1985” is being performed as part of Chippy Lane Productions 2017 scratch night on June 27th.

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This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?

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This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?

Currently listening to; The Groundhog Day musical cast recording. Written by Tim Minchin it’s quite simply one of the best new musicals I’ve seen in the last 10 years. It’s also witty and catchy while also being a really quite emotional listen.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?

Rent- Original Broadway Cast Recording. Quite simply I wouldn’t be who I am personally or professionally without this album. At 19 like many a musical theatre kid, I discovered Rent. I fell in love with the music and my love of that musical shaped my theatre-going life. It also shaped my professional life. From writing first my undergraduate dissertation on the musical, to Rent being a key part of what became my PhD. The music, and composer Jonathan Larson himself are some of the greatest influences on me. Personally, it was a gateway to so many things, including friends. One of my closest friends lives on the other side of the world, but we’re friends because of Rent. Last year we both stood on stage in a Broadway theatre with one of the original cast from Rent. This girl from Cardiff, who never was part of the theatre world, getting to stand on stage on Broadway, with a friend I’d never have, from the other side of the world, having written a PhD on something this actors was in, all because of this music. So Rent is pretty special to me.

Sister Act-Soundtrack. Choirs have played a big part in my life since I went to University, both giving me a creative outlet and allowing me to make some great friends and have some amazing experiences. Coincidentally both choirs I’ve been in over the last 10 years or so have taken the music of Sister Act as an inspiration. I think the message of the films, about the power of music and friendship has been integral to what makes my current choir so special, so the music of these films will always be special to me. (And in a couple of weeks I get to do my best impression of ‘little redhead Nun’ which my singing teacher always used to say was me- looks small and quiet but makes a lot of noise when pushed)

Company- Stephen Sondheim (2006 Broadway Cast recording). Because musicals have ended up a part of my professional life, and even if they weren’t forensic analysis of them is part of my personality as a fan, I can’t leave out a Sondheim musical from this list. Company I’ve chosen because firstly it’s one that in a lifetime of analysis I’d still find new things to uncover and talk about. Added to this, as I grow older and ‘grow into’ the story of Company it becomes more relatable and more emotional. The 2006 production, and recording and the combination of Raul Esparza’s Bobby- I find it hard to imagine any better interpretation of the role- and John Doyle’s re-imagining of the piece- for me will probably always remain the benchmark for this musical. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to have a recording that challenges you intellectually still but also has an emotional resonance that keeps growing.

Sarah McLachlan- Mirrorball. We all have an album that shaped our teenage years and this was mine. I was never cool enough to rebel and be a rocker, so some soft indie-rock was where I ended up. This album just sounds like being 18 again to me.

The Boy From Oz- Cast Recording. Even though I rarely listen to it any more this musical was a big part of my life when I first got it. The first musical I ever saw ‘live’ and part of the path that took me to being both a theatre lover and to my professional career as a researcher. It was my gateway to a world of theatre and musicals, and still remains one of the best theatrical memories I have- discovering musicals with my Mum who is still by my side for a lot of theatre. And it’s a musical that has ‘Wolverine’ (Hugh Jackman) dancing and singing in Hawaiian shirts and gold lame trousers- a guaranteed smile to the face memory!

Of these my ‘One track’ would be ‘Will I?’ from Rent. Not the most famous, or even perhaps the best piece on the recording. But for me it was both the moment I fell in love with the piece, the most emotional moment (actually in theatre ever) seeing it live, and my benchmark for a good production. Hearing that track takes me back to a time and place but also always reminds me a bit of who I am, what inspires me and why I do what I do.