Category Archives: Musical

Review ‘Her Aching Heart’ The Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin

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(3 / 5)

Another transformative space, The Hope Theatre is compact but also a blank canvas. From my last visit, again the stage is completely different. 3 sections of chairs semi-circle the stage which has minimal setting and a large curtain behind.

‘Her Aching Heart’ sees the cross over story from present day to the days of Victorian gothic romance novels. However there is a twist. There are no Mr Rochester’s’ or Colin Firth striding in drenched in pond water – this story has strong female leads and strong romantic love between the two of them.

Picking up on the nonsensical opinions of the time in comparison to now, ‘Her Aching Heart’ is comical in creating 1 dimensional characters and highlighting these with costuming and casting – The Lady of the Manor type character of Harriet (played by Colette Eaton) is all full of pomp and circumstance – beginning rude, obnoxious and playing upon the upper class stereotype, her being dressed in dark colours and casting a brunette is clever with the contrast to the opposing character. Molly (played by Naomi Todd) is a blonde, innocent and by all means perfect peasant girl, who very much like Snow White, attracts creatures and humans alike and revives them with her pure goodness. She is mostly dressed in white and pinks to enhance her innocence. Both actresses do brilliantly well to be humorous and to play to these stereotypes. The costuming and casting choices are also brought into the ‘present day’ scenarios, despite these modern characters being more likeable and naturalistic.

The production in hammed up, over the top and melodramatic – and this is all good.  The idea of enhancing these ridiculous aspects makes the musical comical and contrasting to the era change. The play is clever in making it seem amateur and with this, the polished production is anything but. Original music and composition is used which is funny, witty and provides breaks between the scenes. The only negative I could give is that it is notable that one singer is more prominent than the other – Eaton has a more husky, attention grabbing voice and is able to adjust to fill the room but not blast us out the door – reminiscent to me of a character you would find in Chicago. This is not to say that Todd is not good – she has a wonderful musical theatre-esque take to her voice, her songs and approach to these reminding me much of Wicked and tells the tale well; the voices are just so different that in harmonies and song after another, Todd seems to get a little lost in the space and this is unfortunate for such a wonderful performer.

Her Aching Heart is comedic, clever and certainly worth a watch. Pushing the boundaries of what we know about gothic romance novels and the heterosexuality of them – writer Bryony Lavery has certainly taken a great concept and ran with it.

her aching heart

Review Disneys Peter Pan at the Everyman Festival by Sian Thomas

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(4 / 5)

From the get go, I was excited. I’ve always liked Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, even though I tucked it away and kept it as something for myself to watch quietly on home alone days. This was strikingly different to that, and a million times more fun!

The entire thing was a wholeheartedly adorable. The whole production was truly genuine, full of love and sparks of magic all which light up the audience. Particularly the costumes. Each had a childlike charm to them, and were equally beautiful, hopefully making them more valued and appreciated by the younger people of the audience.

The actors were phenomenal. I could see the dedication within each actor and how seriously they took what they were doing. I could tell how much they wanted every member of the audience – children and young people and adults alike – to fully enjoy themselves. I could see the hard work and commitment under the surface of a perfect performance all paying off.

The actors themselves (and I hope beyond hope that I’ve got their names right from where I’ve found them, if not, please forgive me) Emily March, (who plays Peter Pan), Meg Jones, (who plays Tinkerbell), and Cadi Mullane (who plays Wendy) were all honestly fantastic in their roles. Their confidence and charm were all mesmerising.

I always have a weakness for watching characters I’m not supposed to during talking scenes, and this production was no exception. Each person I watched was fully diligent to their role, always focused and dedicated to an enthralling performance.

To be particular, firstly, I think Emily March’s performance as Peter Pan was stunning. The confidence and the sheer brilliance stemming from her words and flowing through to the audience was quite the experience. The lines were delivered with the loveable boyish charm Peter Pan has coupled with clarity. I struggle to convey my wholehearted astonishment I felt. It was incredible. Similarly, both Meg Jones (Tinkerbell) and Cadi Mullane (Wendy) provoked the same emotion. Meg Jones’ performance fluctuating between speaking to the audience or speaking in ‘bells’ was well done and enjoyable. Her acting altogether was delightful. Lastly, Cadi Mullane’s acting was just as exquisite and fun, full of love and joy.

One thing that was truly incredible was the singing. All of it was honestly dazzling. Coupled with dancing which was amazing by itself and true talent, I was left very, very impressed. The day was a fun day out, and something I’d recommend to families and friends alike if today hadn’t been the last showings. If it ever returns, I will hope for the chance to see it.

All in all, I give it four stars, as it was a truly wonderful production which I wholeheartedly enjoyed and would gladly see again.

Review, Sh*tfaced Showtime, London Wonderground, By Hannah Goslin

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(4 / 5)

The London Wonderground is always a favourite place of mine each Summer. It is a very versatile place full of comedy, cabaret and new and old exciting acts.

As the name suggest, Sh*tfaced showtime is going to be fuelled by alcohol, theatre and comedy. We are unsure what the ‘showtime’ part is going to be but this adds to all the fun and essence of surprise through the night.

The premise of the show is for a group of classically trained musical theatre performers to put on a 1 hour version of a production [in this case, Pirates of Penzance] while one performer is ridiculously drunk. The audience are invited to participate when we believe that the performer is becoming sober and this is where our host intervenes to give ‘one more drink’ for which we eagerly chant.

Watching a person on stage becoming hilariously drunk, you would think that this would be uncomfortable. It is not. It is full of hilarity, as we watch her attempt to keep to the performance but get distracted and all the frivolities we associate with intoxication. We as the audience find this all very comical as outsiders but we can all relate to this state. Despite this, her singing and performance ability at times is very accomplished and is evident her talent despite bringing a lot of comedy with her distractions.

The other sober performers are also very talented and skilled and in their own right, bring a fantastic version of Pirates of Penzance. There are times where the performance goes off course due to our drunk performer and they do well to bring it back to the narrative or to go along with the diversion. Their trust and interaction with one another is genius and makes you feel safe that despite the uncertainty of what could appear on stage [or even off stage].

Sh*tfaced Showtime is genius. To be brave enough to go ahead with such a concept is admirable and executed with sheer perfection and brilliant talent.

Review Chicago Wales Millenium Centre by Barbara Michaels

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CHICAGO

Music and lyrics: John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book: Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse

Choreographer:  Ann Reinking

Musical Director: Ben Atkinson

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

(4 / 5)

Red-hot and sizzling, the multi-award winning musical Chicago, based on real life events in 1920s US, is back at the Wales Millennium Centre and judging by the bookings as popular as it was when it came here four years ago.  With its theme of greed and corruption, the contemporary relevance doesn’t need to be spelled out although the main action takes place on Death Row, where nightclub singer Roxie Hart is standing trial for shooting her lover and the feisty Velma Kelly is up for double murder.  Strong stuff indeed but the dark undercurrent of the story and plotline cannot be ignored, and neither should it be.

But – moving on – this is musical theatre, so let us not dwell on this.  The wonderful musical numbers, toe-tapping and fast, are what makes this show so popular, along with the fast-paced choreography. Chicago is above all a showcase for the original choreography of the legendary Bob Fosse.  The tunes come thick and fast, plunging straight into it with All That Jazz in Act I and never letting up, and the dancers amazing…

Chicago has been performed on stage countless times, plus the memorable film version starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and every director understandably wants to put his or her own mark on it in terms of character portrayal.   Hayley Tamaddon is a low key Roxie with an air of fragility about her that belies the fact that this is one tough lady who will stoop as low as it takes to escape the death penalty.  Although Roxie’s story is pivotal, it is her opposite number Velma who is the strongest here and Sophie Carmen-Jones give the role her all in no uncertain manner, displaying a versatility and, in Act II, an acrobatic ability that is truly amazing.  While Carmen-Jones has the character to a T, Tamaddon’s Roxie is at times almost girl-next-door in her naivety.

Alternating in the role of Prison Matron Mama Morton, who believes in looking after ‘her girls’ – as long as her favours are reciprocated – are Gina Murray and Sam Bailey. Murray’s Mama threatened to bring the house down on press night as she belted out the iconic When You’re Good to Mama full throttle.  Great stuff!  A clever little cameo too by Francis Dee as ‘Not  guilty’Hunyak.  On the same evening, Kerry Spark took over the male lead in place of John Patrtridge, who was absent, in playing unscrupulous defence lawer Billy Flynn always on the lookout for number one and lining his pockets by defending about-to-be convicted murderers.  Amos, Neil Ditt is an experienced actor who ‘gets’ the role of Roxie’s husband, the pathetic, incompetent and ignored ‘Mr Cellophane’ (to use the title of his song) off pat.

The staging is atmospheric and costumes a delight for the eye with deftly wielded chorus line feather fans in one of the later scenes, while the  onstage orchestra under musical director Ben Atkinson, is superb, providing not only musical backing throughout but continuing to entertain after the show ends.

Runs until Saturday 30 July 2016