Tag: London

110 in the Shade

Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, London
2017-05-27 • 19:30

The small productions of this E17 theatre-above-a-pub can sometimes be hit-or-miss, but this particular one scores very high.

What made this performance particularly exciting was the superlative quality of singing from the ensemble as well as some of the principals (with Nick Wyschna standing out thanks to his particularly enchanting voice). The production does justice to Harvey Schmidt’s gem of a score, even though the reduced orchestration had to get rid of Hersy Kay’s best asset, the brass section. Some aspects were lost, like the end of “The Rain Song” and its bewitching chromatic ascent, but most songs retained their glorious appeal.

Now somebody please produce Celebration, another Schmidt & Jones musical with an incredible score.

Music by Harvey Schmidt. Lyrics by Tom Jones. Book by N. Richard Nash. 
Director: Randy Smartnick. Musical Director: Aaron Clingham. With Laurel Dougall (Lizzie Curry), Daniel Urch (Starbuck), Nick Wyschna (File), Christopher Lyne (H.C. Curry), David West (Noah Curry), Julian Quijano (Jimmy Curry), Rebecca Withers (Snookie Updegraff), …

Tick, Tick… Boom!

Park Theatre, London
2017-05-27 • 3:15pm

I have fond memories of seeing the original Off-Broadway production of this autobiographical musical written by Rent’s author, Jonathan Larson, when it premiered (in its current form) at the Jane Street Theatre in 2001, with the wonderful Raúl Esparza in the leading role.

As often with the autobiographical writings of creative people, Tick, Tick… Boom! is genuine, touching and just the right amount of clever. Its references to Mary Poppins and West Side Story are a lot of fun… and the song “Sunday” is remarkable in the way it works as well for people who understand the homage to Stephen Sondheim as for those who don’t.

The cast is very appealing, and the direction gives the proceedings perfect pace and energy.

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson.
Directed by Bronagh Lagan. With Chris Jenkins (Jonathan), Gillian Saker (Susan, et al.), Jordan Shaw (Michael, et al.).


Barbican Theatre, London
2017-05-07 • 15:00

After Les Damnés, Ivo van Hove has created another screen-to-stage adaptation of a Visconti movie. I still can’t really see the point, all the more as the use of microphones deprives the endeavour of some layers of theatricality. Van Hove’s trademark rawness is still there — magnificently defended by a superb cast —, but the physical characteristics of the production create a sense of distance that keeps the audience on the outside.

Conceived and directed by Ivo van Hove. With Jude Law, Halina Reijn, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Chukwudi Iwuji, Robert de Hoog, Aysha Kala.

The Exterminating Angel

Royal Opera House, London
2017-05-06 • 19:00

Thomas Adès’s newest opera, created last Summer in Salzburg, is a masterly adaptation of Luis Buñuel’s remarkable 1962 movie (which, interestingly, is also reported to be the basis for Stephen Sondheim’s next musical).

Adès’s writing is powerful and absorbing. I’ll admit to being more sensitive to his orchestral writing than to his vocal writing, but his score is a perfect match for the eerie surrealism of the movie. The inclusion of the ondes Martenot is a particularly powerful device.

Music: Thomas Adès. Libretto: Tom Cairns. Director: Tom Cairns. With Thomas Allen, Sophie Bevan, Amanda Echalaz, Audrey Luna, Ed Lyon, Sally Matthews, Anne Sofie von Otter, Christine Rice, John Tomlinson, Charles Workman,  …

42nd Street

Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London
2017-05-06 • 14:30

An exuberant, fast-paced, toe-tapping revival of one of musical theatre’s most tuneful staples. The sets seem to have been recycled largely from the previous production, and the over-amplified, 20-strong orchestra doesn’t sound as genuine as in the recent Paris production, but the overall experience appealed a lot to my love for larger-than-life, classical musicals.

Whisper House

The Other Palace, London
2017-04-29 • 19:30

I almost decided not to attend this performance based on word of mouth, but I’m glad I did nonetheless. The somewhat gothic plot, which involves two ghosts, didn’t appeal to me at all, but I did fall for Duncan Sheik’s melodic score, Adam Lenson’s simple but effective direction, and the great cast. The orchestrations, which include a trumpet part and a horn part, were particularly entrancing.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Old Vic, London
2017-04-29 • 14:30

I had never seen Tom Stoppard’s 1966 brilliant play about two peripheral characters from Hamlet lost in bewilderment as to what’s going on in Shakespeare’s tragedy… as well as in life generally. Its very peculiar brand of wit, combined with a Brechtian knack for the absurd, make it a hugely entertaining experience, very well served here by Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire.



Union Theatre, London
2017-04-09 • 14:30

I’ve had a soft spot for Honk! ever since I saw it at the National Theatre in 1999, so much in fact that I went back a few weeks later.

This tiny production relies on seven performers only, which is a bit of a challenge. Its smallish size encourages creativity, but it also prevents the play from blooming into its full potential.



The London Coliseum
2017-04-08 • 19:30

I’m not sure why this production by Lonny Price is billed as “semi-staged” when it contains rather more staging than many other recent productions. It is highly polished and altogether very successful, although obviously tailored to showcase its two stars, Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins.

The biggest thrill of the evening came from the orchestra pit. The full-size orchestra did wonders with the fabulous orchestrations of Robert Russell Bennett, under David Charles Abel’s precise and inspired baton.