Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Slick and oiled: Cinderella @NewWimbTheatre

It is panto season, and nowhere has slicker productions than the New Wimbledon Theatre. This year, with Linda Grey as the fairy godmother in Cinderella the show has appeal for little kids and bigger kids. Bigger older kids. Ones who stayed in when Dallas was on television (well back then there probably wasn't much else to do).

Cinderella now is set against the backdrop of her fathers struggling oil business and thanks her ugly stepsisters spending all his money, they are flat broke. Cue the need for a special Fairy Godmother - with a penchant for a hip flask - to come to the rescue and save the business and get Cinderella to meet her prince charming.

While there is a star-studded cast, what also makes the show a treat are the charismatic performances by Liam Doyle as Prince Charming and Amy Lennox as Cinderella. They sing, dance hold their own with all the insanity (and occasional scene chewing) around them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Fare: A Christmas Carol @ORLTheatre

A Christmas Carol at the Old Red Lion Theatre is an enjoyable and evocative version of the tale that uses resourceful staging, some fine singing and subtle performances to tell Dickens' tale.

The story of ghosts, greed and goodwill is now a regular Christmas theatrical tradition and works best mixed with carols and some festive cheer.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Variations on a theme: Miss Havisham's Expectations / Sikes & Nancy

Dickens With A Difference at Trafalgar Studios presents two monologues by characters from the stories of Charles Dickens and deconstructs and tells the stories from a character's perspective.

It helps to be familiar not just with the plot of both stories but also the written words that shape them, and knowing that Dickens loved to do readings of his stories as performances. Both pieces evoke these performances.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

High notes: Mikado @CharingCrossThr

Fine singing and some fancy footwork mark this latest revival of The Mikado, which is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre through January.

If you are not ready for sitting through a pantomime, this probably the next best thing with so much silliness. And depending on your musical sensibilities (and familiarity with Gilbert and Sulivan's work) you may find yourself humming along to the tunes anyway, or at least sitting beside someone who is.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Boots and all: Man to Man @ParkTheatre

Man to Man, which concluded its run at the Park Theatre Sunday allowed for Tricia Kelly to inhabit a character that is filled with desperation for survival.

The hardship comes after a series of calamitous events. The first after losing her husband (and source of income) to cancer, then to survive war time Germany and again in the post-war socialist order of East Germany.

Kelly moves about the stage, drinking, screaming, throwing dirt and all the time evoking the tumultuous period with a wry sense of ingenuity and a little bit of humour. It must be a hell of a part to play and to watch her perform is fascinating and evocative.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The elixir of Grigolo: L'elisir d'amore @TheRoyalOpera

Vittorio Grigolo in L'elisir d'amore © ROH.Mark Douet, 2014 Two star performances by Vittorio Grigolo and Bryn Terfel make this current production of L'elisir d'amore at the Royal Opera so exciting and damn funny.

Grigolo bounces around the stage with such energy, enthusiasm and vocal power that makes this production a real treat.

His Nemorino, the naive village boy besotted with farm owner Adina, really conveys the hope and longing (and the touch of silliness) that this piece requires.

Adina, played by Lucy Crowe has a lovely vocal tone and can act too. Perhaps she seems to nice to ever be so cruel to reject Grigolo's boisterous advances.

Bryn Terfel as the quack doctor Dulcamara who offers a love potion to Nemorino to help win Adina's heart has a great voice but perhaps not the first person to think of for this comic role. He seemed tentative on Tuesday in his opening moments. But by the second half he was deftly handling both the comedy and the music and looked like he was having a hell of time.

Matching the energy onstage was conductor Daniele Rustioni keeping the orchestra light and swift

An irresistible treat that had the audience laughing and cheering throughout.

Performances run until 13 December and the production will also be filmed and screened live on 26 November as part of the live cinema season.  Catch it if you can.

****


Photo credit: Royal Opera Mark Douet

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Feel the earth move: Beautiful comes to London



It is not due to open at the Aldwych Theatre until February 2015, but Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’ has now started to appear on posters underground.

The musical tells the story of Carole King’s journey from Brooklyn girl to someone who wrote or co-wrote some of the most well-known songs of the last fifty or so years.

Her music could fit several musicals but the show includes a range of her hits including ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and ‘I Feel the Earth Move’.

Check out more at Beautiful - The Carole King Musical London...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shortbits: Streaming @thepleasance

The subject matter may not be to everyone's tastes (although going by their popularity online maybe it would be), but Pipeline theatre's Streaming offers insight into the world of camming, online sex exchanges.

But for a lurid subject matter the play turns out to be quite human in its observations about life that can turn in the right circumstances. While thoughtful and surreal at times, what makes the piece worthwhile are the excellent performances from the cast. They manage to create realistic and sympathetic characters.

If only it was a little shorter as it would pack even more of a punch. It runs (for two hours plus interval) at the Pleasance Theatre until the end of the month.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jumping the shark: Idomeno @RoyalOperaHouse

Shark and the chorus of Idomeneo in Martin Kušej’s production of Idomeneo © ROH.Catherine Ashmore 2014 There is some fine music making in the current Royal Opera production of Idomeneo. It is such a pity that the production is sunk by Martin Kušej's heavy-handed interpretation of regime change.

Perhaps in another production it would be a stylish addition, but a giant rubber shark representing a sea serpent from Neptune highlighted the worst excesses of this nonsensical production.

Rubber sharks, concrete walls spattered with blood and overacting extras carrying guns and wearing cheap sunglasses all becomes a bit too distracting for this early opera. Crete has never looked more unrecognisable. Audiences were not impressed either with the creative team resoundingly booed on opening night.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Turning a blind eye and other emotionless states: Cans @theatre503

Taking the fallout of Operation Yewtree and turning it into a comedy drama seems like a challenging task, but Cans manages to inject some humanity into the subject matter, even if the results are a bit predictable (and a tad overlong).

Stuart Slade's debut play is a two-hander set in the garage of Jen's family home with her uncle Len. Jen's dad was a  media personality, charity fundraiser and national treasure. But a year ago he was arrested for sexual offences against young men and women, and now he is dead. Len is trying to help her get over it and the two of them seek refuge in the garage of her home, drowning mice, sharing secrets and talking crap.