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.
Southwark Playhouse, London
2017-04-08 • 15:00
Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman’s The Life was one of the very first shows I saw on Broadway in 1997. Twenty years later, the Southwark Playhouse is giving it its London premiere, directed by Michael Blakemore, who already helmed the original production.
The story is a little bleak, but Cy Coleman’s score, even though not overly original (there’s even a direct quote from Mack and Mabel), is an absolute thrill. The orchestration for the reduced 11-piece orchestra, which puts the synthesisers in the background, is a distinct improvement on the original — it sounds absolutely glorious.
The cast, dominated by the brilliant Sharon D. Clarke, make the most of a story which does contain some cringeworthy moments.
All in all, a very joyous experience.
Music : Cy Coleman. Lyrics : Ira Gasman. Book : David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman. Directed by Michael Blakemore. Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves. With T’shan Williams, David Albury, Sharon D. Clarke, Cornell S. John, John Addison, Joanna Woodward, Jo Servi, …
Phoenix Theatre, London
2017-04-07 • 19:30
The 2003 comedy film Calendar Girls, which was already made into a play in 2008, has now also been adapted into a musical. The original author Tim Firth is still at the helm. The music has been written by Gary Barlow, who wrote the somewhat lacklustre score to the second incarnation of Finding Neverland. The story remains true to the original, and the cast give a winning performance enhanced by Robert Jones’ stunning set design… but, once again, Gary Barlow’s score is mostly bland and unappealing.
Written by Tim Firth & Gary Barlow. Directed by Tim Firth. With Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice, Claire Machin, Marian McLoughlin, Claire Moore, Joanna Riding, …
The Other Palace, London
2017-03-24 • 19:30
17 years after its New York premiere, Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party finally receives its London premiere, in a stunnin production led by the insanely talented Drew McOnie at the recently rechristened The Other Palace (formerly the St. James Theatre).
There are many exciting performances, but none as powerful as John Owen-Jones’s as Burrs. Donna McKechnie manages to outshine everyone else as Dolores, the part originally created by Eartha Kitt on Broadway. The orchestra gives a brilliant performance and manages to make LaChiusa’s complex score thrillingly appealing.
Music and lyrics: Michael John LaChiusa. Book: Michael John LaChiusa & George C. Wolfe. Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. With Frances Ruffelle, John Owen-Jones, Tiffany Graves, Ako Mitchell, Sebastian Torkia, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Donna McKechnie, …
Menier Chocolate Factory, London
2017-01-15 • 15:30
The ability of the Menier Chocolate Factory to come up with delightful productions seems boundless. The treatment given to Bock & Harnick’s 1963 jewel of a musical is an endless source of wonder. In spite of my limited affinity with Ms. Strallen’s talents, this production thrilled me more than the recent New York revival.
A wonderful set by Paul Farnsworth and a generally likeable cast, much more homogeneous than the New York one, add up to an absolutely enchanting experience. Mark Umbers gives a particularly appealing performance as Georg Nowack.
Direction: Matthew White. Choreography: Rebecca Howell.
With Mark Umbers (Georg Nowack), Scarlett Strallen (Amalia Balash), Katherine Kingsley (Ilona Ritter), Peter Dukes (Steven Kodaly [u/s]), Les Dennis (Mr. Maraczek), Callum Howells (Arpad Lazslo), …