Showing posts from August, 2013

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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Interstellar smut: Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

Leaving the theatre singing to oneself, "glitter shoes, saved my life," I was struck how rare it is to see a new show and keep the music and lyrics in your head. But with Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens downstairs in the bowels Lounge of the Leicester Square Theatre , the song and line is repeated so often it was bound to become an ear worm. It was also plastered on the merchandising strategically placed near the exit. From what I could understand of the plot it revolves around a sleazy cabaret club called Saucy Jacks on the notorious planet Frottage 3, where the performers become victims of a serial killer, who kills using a red slingback. With all this murder going on the club is visited by the Space Vixens who are like an interstellar Charlie's Angels who fight crime with the power of disco...

Last chance legends: A Chorus Line

Prior to it completing its run next weekend I finally caught A Chorus Line at the Palladium. It's a simple and slick fly on the wall show about dancers wondering if this is their last shot on stage as they progress from auditions to the opening night. It is hard not to like a show with such heart and thrilling performances. The cast are pretty good and the production is rarely dull, with its classic Broadway songs and classic theatrical set pieces. It is hard not to like Scarlett Strallen (one of the omnipresent Strallens and pictured opposite) dance and high kick her way through the Music and The Mirror as she desperately wants a job. Or see Olivier award-winning Leigh Zimmerman as Sheila, the very late twenty-something dancer who is wondering how long her run will last... At times it is exhausting to watch the cast as they are on stage for nearly two hours (without an interval). And if it looks like hard work, that is probably because it is .

Wishful thinking: The Last Ever Musical

Most new musicals these days are just a string of old songs cobbled together to make a not very good show. They are probably best enjoyed if you don't understand English too well so the flimsy plots and melodramas can be mistaken for something more profound. But of course nowadays most of the time the fun is really in going out to the theatre and having a night out rather than watching whats on stage... On the fringe scene, musicals are usually an opportunity to see a work that isn't going to get a commercial run, or something cheap to mount - like Jason Robert Brown's Last Five Years or I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - and more fun to be in than watch... With this in mind it was intriguing to go and see the new piece, The Last Ever Musical at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. It is a new piece by Simon James Collier and music by Richard Bates. It attempts to be a musical that's a tad offensive and vulgar and send up some of the London fringe theatre

Pride revisited: The Pride at Trafalgar Studios

The Pride is a thought provoking and somewhat topical piece of theatre and serves as a reminder of how rights and freedoms now taken for granted in Britain were non-existent a little over half a century ago. The past and present co-exist to tell a story about love and boundaries. The play evolves around a complex love triangle and alternate universes between 1958 and 2013 involving the characters of Philip, Oliver and Sylvia. In 1958 Philip and Sylvia are in a loveless marriage and Oliver is Sylvia's boss. Through chance encounters and secret meetings Philip and Oliver start a relationship against a backdrop of fear and shame. In 2013 and Philip and Oliver are struggling in a gay relationship and it is Sylvia that plays a role in putting the two together.

A small walk on part: Sir Not Appearing in Spamalot West End

Normally new media reporters just comment via various social media platforms on what they are seeing rather than what they are doing... However after recently reviewing the current production of Spamalot  at The Playhouse Theatre, I was invited back to play the pivotal character of Sir Not Appearing for a Tuesday night show. Of course it is one thing to be sitting in the comfort (or reasonable comfort given the age of many West End theatres) of a theatre seat, but another to take a peek behind the scenes and see the work involved in putting on a show every night...

Nights to vaguely remember: Titanic The Musical

Titanic is not particularly a good musical, but you could be forgiven that it is a great one with this compact staging, thrilling in-your-face performances and soaring vocals. It has just opened at the Southwark Playhouse and notwithstanding the cliches and the endless statistics (ok the largest ship of its time no doubt needs 42,000 fresh eggs) it is still makes for a worthwhile expedition to see this musical presented in London for the first time. Under the direction of Thom Southerland , the bare essentials of the show are presented here, up close with an exceptional six-piece orchestra under the musical direction Mark Aspinall. Cast members seamlessly double as first, second or third class passengers or crew members within a blink of the eye. It is amazing to see a cast working so hard to keep things (er) afloat and even assemble parts of the ship right before you. The staging is right into the audience with an upper level that doubles as the bridge. Presenting the characte

A frightfully fun afternoon: Lost Musicals and Words and Music

I've never been to a Lost Musicals event before, but it is quite a treat, and an opportunity to catch rarely performed or obscure shows that may have been undeservedly ignored when first staged. The obscure show in question this time around was a 1932 Noel Coward revue called Words and Music. Coward's idea, following various successes in the early 1930s was to present a revue with no stars. The songs and sketches that explore Coward's usual fascination with stars, class and manners. The show  was not the success it was expected to be and quickly disappeared. A few years later it opened on Broadway but also was not a success. Of the sketches, one seemed particularly amusing in which children act like their parents, smoking and drinking martinis. Many of the songs have since become standards in their own right such as "Mad about the Boy." The song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" is also delivered with such freshness and energy by the cast that you feel