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Showing posts with the label Charing Cross Theatre

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The male gaze: Turning the screw

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It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Songs in the sand: From Here to Eternity @charingcrossthr

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From Here To Eternity lands at the Charing Cross Theatre with all the energy and enthusiasm of a surprise attack on the layabout and jaded audiences of the West End. Afterall, audiences at the West End seem a bit soft these days. This revival focuses on the leading characters in the story, making the two weeks leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbour a musical theatre event that doesn’t let up… much. Adapted from the novel by James Jones, the musical has lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Stuart Brayson, and a book by Donald Rice and Bill Oakes. It is a pared-back version of the show that was on in the West End nearly ten years ago. But this also helps distil the drama down to the bare essentials. And the smaller space of the Charing Cross Theatre gives the piece intensity, focus and a sense or urgency.  Centred around an army unit stationed in Hawaii two weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbour. There's talk of war but no action except for the fighting among the men. There's so

Busted flush: The Throne @CharingCrossThr

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There appears to be a fascination with the bathroom habits of the Royal Family. In Melbourne, Australia, you can visit the royal bathroom at the Arts Centre in Victoria that the Princess of Wales refused to use . Or there is the toilet at the V&A in South Kensington built for Queen Victoria. Perhaps it is the great leveller. After all, everyone has to do it… And with that in mind, we are presented with The Throne by John Goldsmith, currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre .  The premise is that the Queen is locked in a bathroom with a republican. Two hours watching the Queen in a lavatory might not be everyone’s idea of a night out at the theatre. But it sounds like it could be funny. But this is a gentle comedy that has the purpose to put a republican and the monarch on a debate over British history.  The prominence of the bathroom is slightly jarring when you enter the Charing Cross Theatre, and audiences should be prepared to be looking at a urinal for the whole evening. Fort

Keep it gay: Soho Cinders @CharingCrossThr

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An alternative to Christmas panto season has landed at Charing Cross Theatre in the form of Soho Cinders. A Cinderella goes gay story with music by Stiles and Drewe. But something's a little queer with this adaptation. Catchy songs, humour and a great (although not very diverse) cast don't overcome what feels like a dated, awkward story. In this story set against the backdrop of the London Mayoral election, our Soho Cinders, Robbie (Luke Bayer) is working at a laundromat with his pal Velcro (Millie O'Connell). Somehow he manages to hook up at the notorious hook-up point Trafalgar Square (who knew?) with Mayoral candidate and ex-swimmer James Prince (Lewis Asquith). But the problem is the candidate already has a fiancé (Tori Hargreaves). And she's nice. It's hard to get too enthused about a relationship forged in the shadows of Nelson's column while his other half is waiting at home with a bottle of wine. To give the show it's panto feel, there a

Musicals on the precipice: Queen Of The Mist @Charingcrossthr

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When sexagenarian Anne Edison Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, she thinks it will lead to fame and fortune. But achieving recognition is one thing. Maintaining it is harder. Particularly if you're a bit boring. Or old. Or a woman. And it's 1901 by the way. Thoroughly modern women didn’t exist back then. Nor could they vote. Queen Of The Mist is an unconventional musical for an unusual subject. It’s currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre . Against the backdrop of anarchists, suffragettes and presidential assassins, a woman designs her own barrel and goes over Niagara Falls as a way to make money and financial independence. A feat that no one else had yet achieved. Yet fame is fleeting, and things don't work out how she envisaged. Her Manager Frank Russell (Will Arundel) runs off with the barrel. People lose interest in her story. Suffragettes dismiss her as a carnival act. And she ends up spending the rest of her life (and m

Attracting attention: Amour @charingcrossthr

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Amour is about the brief charming life of an ordinary man who discovers he can walk through walls in 1950s Paris. With music by Michael Legrand, it’s a whimsical fantasy that it’s hard to dislike. As the piece says, “There’s magic in the air” even if the lyrics translated into English bring the piece crashing back to reality. It’s having its UK professional premiere at Charing Cross Theatre . At the centre of the piece is an earnest young man Dusoleil (Gary Tushaw), who lives alone in a flat in Montmartre, dreaming about his neighbour Isabelle (Anna O’Byrne), who is married. He’s a hard worker in the civil service who gets his work done so he can write a letter to his dear mother. But one day during a power outage he discovers he can walk through walls. So he decides to put his new talents to good use to become a latter-day Robin Hood, winning the hearts of the locals and Isabelle. The lyrics become predictable that it’s tempting to play a guessing game. You just know when the l

Axes to grind: Violet @charingcrossthr

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A game of poker, a greyhound bus trip and a few stops at whorehouses of America lead to salvation. Or so it appears in Violet, a musical getting its UK premiere at Charing Cross Theatre . An inspired production set in the traverse and a stellar cast are somewhat let down by a superficial story. And sound that made it difficult to hear what people were singing about. Violet is set in 1964 North Carolina.  It's about a young woman who was disfigured as child when her father was careless with an axe. With her life savings she travels on a bus trip across the country in search of a miracle healer and tele-evangelist in Oklahoma. Along the way she strikes up a friendship with benefits with two young soldiers. With this setup I was half expecting a Dogfight on the bus . But instead of some kinda time, things are kept bright and sweet with its bluegrass score by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley. But soon the sweetness becomes relentless. By the time you're half way through you&

There’s something about Elena: It Happened In Key Key West @CharingCrossThr

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This isn’t your typical West End Musical at the Charing Cross Theatre . Creepy German radiologist Von Cosel treats a woman, Elena, for tuberculosis. She dies. Two years later he digs her up and lives with her. Parading her about, propping her up for the following years, Weekend At Bernies style.  He’s convinced that she is the vision of the woman he would spend his life with. As she decomposes, he imagines a life of bliss. On one level it’s not a very convincing musical. The score at times seems to mimic Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s also overlong with superfluous exposition. But there’s something likeable about this musical. It’s polished and has some terrific performances. Other famous necrophiliacs were weird. You’d never want to eat a curry from Dennis Nielsen. Nor would you want to be a hospital patient when Jimmy Saville was around. But Von Cosel was seen as mostly harmless. The fake news of the day pinned him as a hopeless old romantic. They put Elena’s do-it-yourself mummified body

Quintuple threats: Daisy Pulls It Off @charingcrossthr

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It’s a sign of the growing complexity of the world. Tomorrow’s performers don’t just need to be able to act, sing, dance and play a musical instrument. They also need to play hockey. Well at least they do in the graduating group of actor-musicians from the Guildford School of Acting. They’re currently performing Daisy Pulls It Off at the Charing Cross Theatre. The performances are fascinating and at times exhausting to watch. Particularly in the hockey match final. Cast members have musical instruments, tell a story, dance and while playing hockey. Clever buggers. The show’s about Daisy who is a schoolgirl who has won a scholarship to a girls schools. Being England she has to overcome prejudice and snobbishness of the other school girls. But of course a show with a title suggesting she “pulls it off” you know what’s going to happen. The show by Denise Deegan dates from the early 1980s. It ran for over 1000 performances in the West End and won an Olivier Award. It’s the type of provinci

Only an older woman: Harold and Maude @Charingcrossthr

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There’s something irresistibly cute and whimsical about this adaptation of Harold and Maude. It’s not as dark or shocking as the film. But the performances and production of this tale of living life and enjoying every stage of it make it a delight. It’s currently showing at the Charing Cross Theatre . Colin Higgins wrote the script to Harold and Maude as his third year film school thesis. Directed by Hal Ashby and starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort it bombed on release. Only later did it develop into a cult following. Higgins, who would go on to write and direct the movies Foul Play and 9 to 5 ,  would later adapt it into the play we have here.  The story centres on Harold. He’s a young man stuck in the straight-jacket of middle-class early seventies suburbia. He stages suicide attempts to shock his mother. He goes to funerals of strangers and has generally withdrawn from life. While at one of these funerals he meets Maude. She’s constantly borrowing things; cars, trees, money from the

Wicked men with beards: The Woman In White @charingcrossthr

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What makes The Woman In White interesting is the cast assembled for this tale about imprisonment, nasty men and poor artists. Even if this story makes no sense, it's a chance to be amazed by performers who hopefully will get to go onto bigger (and better) things. It’s having its first revival at Charing Cross Theatre . Pared back from its original production which premiered in the West End over ten years ago, here there are less effects and a bigger focus on the story. But the story doesn’t make much sense. Two young bored women Laura (Anna O'Byrne) and Marian (Carolyn Maitland) trapped in the country enlist the services of an artist, Walter (Ashley Stillburn), to help them draw. The artist sees a ghostly woman dressed in white on the way to their house. Walter falls in love with Laura. But Laura’s engaged to marry Sir Percival Glyde (Chris Peluso) as it was her father’s dying wish. Her father mustn't have liked Laura much as you just know by Sir Percival's facia