(5 / 5)
Cardiff’s New Theatre was packed to the rafters with a dazzling array of glitter and sequins last night for the first performance of La Cage aux Folles. The musical adaptation of French playwright Jean Poiret’s script is largely recognised as one of the greatest modern musicals. The stage production, directed by Martin Connor, is a throwback to the old glamour and glitz associated with the French Riviera but also has a very key message in the story.
One of the leading characters, Georges, is played by the US TV and Broadway actor Adrian Zmed who greets the audience with a heartfelt welcome to La Cage. There was something a little different about this cabaret, however, in the form of all the main performers in the cast being men dressed as women.
‘La Cage’ is a drag cabaret club in the heart of Saint Tropez, run by Georges and his very flamboyant husband Albin who is played by West End actor and former Eastenders star John Partridge. As the audience are waiting for Albin’s arrival on stage we are first greeted by the appearance of his on-stage alter ego Zaza. John Partridge creates an impressive character as he struts across the stage in a robe and a pair of high heels. He wins over the audience from the beginning and really gives the part his all.
The story unfolds when Georges and Albin’s son, Jean- Michele, (Georges’ from a previous relationship) arrives to tell his father that he is engaged to Anne, the daughter of a French politician who is well-known for his conservative views. Jean- Michele played by Dougie Carter drops a few bombshells on his dad. Including that of breaking the news to Albin that he can’t be there when the parents come over for dinner at their home.
Albin is horrified when he hears the news and his disappointment leads to a spine tingling performance from John Partridge of the musical’s most iconic number ‘I Am What I am’. Georges and Albin soon make up and it’s easy to like the two contrasting co-stars who have a brilliant on-stage chemistry with each other which could be compared to that of Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in the ITV series Vicious. The arrival of Dindon, the French politician, and his apparently conservative wife raised the bar once again on the entertainment as Albin comes up with a hilarious plan to meet the in-laws to be.
John Partridge’s performance as Albin and Zaza is absolutely superb and while the audience cheered and got to its feet for the entire cast, the largest applause and cheers were saved for him. During the performance John Partridge fell down some of the stairs on stage but being the true professional he is, kept in character and even made a joke about it. He carried on with the rest of the show and came on for the second act. Following the show John Partridge had to go to A&E and I really have to applaud him for being so professional and continuing with the show despite being in pain.
All of the cast were amazing and really very talented especially during the tap dancing scenes in which the male dancers very skillfully danced in high heels and gowns. A special mention must also go to Samson Ajewole who played Jacob and was exceptionally funny. He delivered a very strong performance and was one of the stars of the evening. As too was Marti Webb who played Jacqueline and created a very likeable character for the audience.
The stage sets used during the show were simply divine. All of the scenes in the show were very well thought out and the sets changed seamlessly. My personal favourite set design of the show was that of the stage at La Cage. The show saw a theatre stage constructed within a stage which is shown in the picture below and worked really well as it gave the audience the perspective of watching a whole different theatre on stage.
La Cage Aux Folles is a brilliant and moving, feel-good production that will be guaranteed to leave you smiling as you walk out the theatre doors and taking a whole new look on life. I urge everyone who get’s the chance to see the show to go as you will not regret it!
La Cage Aux Folles is currently on a UK tour so make sure you visit the New Theatre website in the link below and book your tickets before its too late.
(5 / 5)
This weekend Cardiff has had the luck of the Irish as Michael Flatley’s worldwide phenomenon ‘Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games’ has played in St David’s Hall. The tour is one of the biggest the UK has ever had and has currently been seen by 60 million people in 60 different countries on every continent. All of the stops are pulled out in this Irish Dancing Extravaganza with dancing that is simply mesmerising.
I have been looking forward to watching this show for a long time and being a tap dancer myself can appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into this form of dancing. I knew from the opening sequence alone we would be in for a good night. As the first half of the show begins the audience are greeted with a projected Michael Flatley and a giant clock alluding to the opening of the show.
The cast are very well cast and all of the characters within the show work well as a dance unit. The perfectly balanced ensemble of male and female dancers help to give depth to the story and in the dance sequences when they are all in a line and coordinated it really is something to admire. Their collective talent is unbelievable and there are moments where your jaw is in your lap watching their feet move almost as too fast to comprehend. The main lead Lord of the Dance was played by James Keegan and the Dark Lord was played by Zoltan Papp.
The show seemed to have a variety show feel to it with all of the acts being very diverse. They all managed to hold attention of the audience due to their frequent costume changes and the cleaver projections that portrayed Ireland as an Idyllic place filled with Unicorns and rainbows. The plot follows a little Spirit with a magic flute who battles against evil to save Ireland from being taken over by evil cyborgs. Along the way the Spirit meets different dancers as well as a Black Swan like love triangle that threatens to turn the head of Ireland’s saviour, the Lord of the Dance himself. The show culminates with a big fight for the title of Lord of the Dance.
You can’t help but have a big smile on your face when the full ensemble cast fill the width of the stage at St David’s Hall and with their legs kicking and tapping in perfect sync. The show’s best section and what will always be their most iconic is the ‘Lord of the Dance’, and the skill of the cast is amazing in which they gave four Encores at the end of the show of that very dance which was met with a standing ovation from the whole audience at St David’s Hall.
If you’re a fan of this type of dancing and the Irish music and culture this show is without a doubt the show for you to attend next. It provides a 5-star evening of entertainment with lots of ups and downs within the story. In my opinion this show is something everyone should experience once in their lifetime as it will enthral you.
For more information about the tour of the Lord of the Dance please visit the official website to see where the tour will be heading next. http://www.lordofthedance.com/
I am a woman who is rarely lost for words. I have no idea where to begin on this one.
So, let’s go with my first thoughts:
I witnessed an opera audience splutter and stutter into laughter and whoops of delight as a show became progressively funnier and livelier and more and more colourful.
My dear, this isn’t opera… it’s, um, a musical.
Shock horror! The Welsh National Opera does musical all right. It’s borderline panto.
It is singing, talking, dancing, ballet, tap – it is Baltimore, it is Shakespeare, it is Cole Porter.
We rush from dusty backstage to technicolour onstage with a rapacious love for the piece which infects everyone in the building.
There is even a stuffed mule.
Not funny, dear.
Oh it is. It is carry me out of here laughingly funny! It is a showcase for this multi- talented cast and how much they seem to enjoy their moments in the spotlight. Revelling in the bawdiness, the burlesque and the slapstick.
Asses seem to have quite a prominent role, one way and another.
It reminds me at times of The Good Old Days, vaudeville at its finest, people laughing at themselves in the story, in the audience. I fancy we should all be wearing doublets and bodices. A round of the Old Bull and Bush at the end wouldn’t go amiss, such is the atmosphere.
Well, I wasn’t expecting that!
Kate sings the songs of the wild and sexy and shrewish, Petruchio was an operatic twinkly eyed pirate, the gunmen do one of the best duets since Michael Ball and Les Dennis in Hairspray; and Bianca and Lucentio are utterly joyous in both song and dance.
It is obscenely good entertainment.
We come out to Christmas trees and misty cold, buzzing with that warm fuzzy feeling you get from a performance well done.
But this is Cardiff, a city, like many others, with a dark underbelly. There, under the lit arches of the Wales Millennium Centre, is a man completing a broadsheet crossword. I give him the change I find in the bottom of my bag – it is a paltry amount but it is the only cash I have. I apologise for my meanness. He smiles and calls me back.
Look at this, pretty lady.
My friend and I turn back and he shows us a magic trick with a 20p coin and wishes us a Merry Christmas.
Event: Kiss Me Kate
Seen: 06 Dec, 2016
Reviewer: Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics
Running: 06 Dec – 10 December 2016
Cost : Tickets: £7 – £43
Running time: Approximately 2 hour 50 minutes with one interval
5 stars – spectacular
A Welsh National Opera production, sung in English
Conductor James Holmes
Director Jo Davies
Set & Costume Designer Colin Richmond
Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell
Choreographer Will Tuckett
Fred Graham / Petruchio Quirijn de Lang
Lilli Vanessi / Katherine Jeni Bern
1st Gunman Joseph Shovelton
2nd Gunman John Savourin
Music and Lyrics Cole Porter
Book Bella and Samuel Spewack
Critical Edition David Charles Abell and Seann Alderking.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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