Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre

8 Nov

Who did it? That is the big question in Murder Ballad, currently playing at the not very glamorous Arts Theatre (yes, the place is in BAD need of a refurb, there just is no denying it). I will not spoil the surprise for those who have not seen it by giving away details of the plot. Just this: While watching the show I came up with various possible endings and none was what actually happened. So there is definitely potential for a good old guessing game as the story progresses.

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Victoria Hamilton-Barritt does not just lead us through the story; she is the star of the show. Both her voice and her sometimes sinister, sometimes almost cheeky and always intriguing portrayal of the Narrator are in a class of its own.

Kerry Ellis plays Sarah, the female love interest. One thing is for sure: She can sing. Personally I do not find her acting convincing. She is not bad by any means but next to her fellow cast members she never manages to shine.

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Then there is Ramin Karimloo – recently returned to the UK after playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway to rave reviews – as Tom, the former boyfriend: Dark, handsome – one of those guys women tend to fall for even though they know they mean trouble. Seeing Ramin take on a role that is so completely different from both the Phantom and Valjean (the two roles he has been playing on and off for a while) is a revelation. He gets to be bad and sexy and finally that incredible voice can show its diversity with a few slightly more rocky tunes. It is a joy to watch and clearly he is having fun in the show.

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Norman Bowman completes the love triangle as Sarah’s nice, gentle partner Michael – the guy she meets after Tom breaks her heart and who she settles down and has a child with. Michael is without a doubt the most interesting of the three lovers. While both Sarah and Tom know there is a third “party” involved Michael is kept in the dark the longest. And it is that moment of heartbreak – when Michael realises Sarah has been cheating on him (betraying her family) – that shows what a tremendously talented actor Norman is. And as if that was not enough he is an incredibly strong singer too.

While you cannot fault the cast of this production the set falls short at times. Personally I am no fan of the huge projections used in this show. They do nothing for the production and only distract from what is happening on stage (that is what a massive black and white photo of Ramin Karimloo does to me at least – call me shallow if you want). And while the revolve is used quite well it seems a bit like a gimmick someone simply wanted to play with.

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The songs did not stick in my head the first time around. I admit I have been back to see the show a second time (the cast is just too good to resist) and that time the score really got to me. So for me Murder Ballad is a grower.  It is not a prefect show. It has some obvious flaws and it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it is worth checking out if only for seeing a group of talented, well-known performers in such a small venue – who knows when you will get the chance again.

Murder Ballad is playing at the Arts Theatre until December 3rd. For more info and to book tickets visit https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk.

Lazarus – King’s Cross Theatre

31 Oct

I am not a David Bowie fan. And I mean this with the biggest respect. I like some of his songs. I appreciate his talent. I just cannot call myself an actual fan and I certainly do not have huge knowledge of his work.

I am saying this to make it clear that I did not buy a ticket for Lazarus because it is “the David Bowie musical”. I simply wanted to watch a new piece of musical theatre and I admit the prospect of seeing Michael C. Hall on stage did help to sway me in the direction of the show.

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Having now seen Lazarus I am not quite sure I can say what exactly I witnessed on that stage at King’s Cross Theatre. But one thing I know for sure: This show is innovative, thrilling, different and it spoke to me in a way I am having trouble to explain.

Michael C. Hall’s performance is a revelation. For the duration of the show (it runs at 1:50 hours without an interval) Michael C. Hall IS Thomas Newton, the man who fell to earth and is now spending all of his time in a stale New York apartment. Mary Lou, the love of his life, has left him and he is subsisting on gin and Twinkies. It would be easy to say Michael C. Hall is simply playing David Bowie as Thomas Newton. It would also be wrong although his voice has a chilling resemblance to David Bowie at times. There is not a single moment in which Michael C. Hall is slipping out of his role. And it would be so easy considering he spends some time just sitting outside of the spotlight watching his fellow cast members. But he is 100% there the whole time (and he rarely leaves the stage).

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Speaking of the rest of the cast: Sophia Anne Caruso as the unearthly girl who visits Thomas in his apartment and knows everything about him is mesmerising to watch. Amy Lennox gives a solid performance as Elly – Thomas Newton’s assistant who starts turning into the blue-haired Mary Lou – but she does not manage to shine next to Sophia Anne Caruso and Michael C. Hall. Michael Esper is wonderfully creepy as Valentine, the show’s “bad guy” (but does he really do all those horrible things or are they just part of Thomas Newton’s confused imagination?).

The staging appears simple at first but quickly becomes a tour de force of projections that make you feel like you are trapped in a science fiction fantasy – and maybe you are because nothing you see really happens (or does it?).

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I left the theatre feeling completely floored by what I just witnessed. It does sound strange but I could not sum up what this show is actually about even if my life depended on it. But this piece of theatre captured my mind completely and refused to let it go. I felt drawn into the weird “world” of Thomas Newton.

There is no way I can predict if someone will enjoy this show. For once I am saying you will either love or hate it and both opinions are completely valid. Lazarus is not your typical musical. It speaks to you on a different level – or maybe it does not. Either way, I suggest you give it a try. The worst that can happen is you end up spending a confusing evening listening to David Bowie songs.

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Lazarus is running at the King’s Cross Theatre until January 21st 2016. For more info and to book tickets visit  https://lazarusmusical.com/.

 

 

Blood Brothers – UK Tour 2016/2017

24 Oct

Blood Brothers – the story of the Johnstone twins. It’s a modern classic by now and one of those shows every musical theatre fan should watch at least once.

We meet Mrs. Johnstone who ist struggling to make a living for herself and her children. When she finds out she is expecting twins things seem hopeless. But then her employer Mrs. Lyons who has been unsuccessful in getting pregnant herself makes her an offer that seems to solve her problems.

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Lyn Paul is no stranger to the role of Mrs Johnstone. I admit I am having trouble seeing her as a woman in her mid-twenties these days (Mrs. Johnstone’s age at the start of the show). But she makes up for this with superb acting and a wonderful, rich voice that really does the beautiful melodies in this show justice. Sarah Jane Buckley is a fantastic Mrs. Lyons. She manages the walk between slightly snobbish upper class woman and desperate mother haunted by fear of losing “her” son perfectly.

However, Blood Brothers stands and falls with the Johnstone twins. There’s the working class twin Mickey (brilliantly played by Sean Jones) and the upper class twin Eddie (Joel Benedict – a joy to watch). The relationship between these two is absolutely crucial and Sean Jones and Joel Benedict work together flawlessly. You can feel the bond between the twins and that is down to the portrayal of those two fantastic performers.

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A new face in the world of Blood Brothers is Dean Chisnall as the Narrator. Not only can the man sing he also brings a great mix of menace and compassion to the character. From my experience the Narrator can be quite cold and calculating – in some cases I have seen him practically lead the narrative to its tragic ending. Dean Chisnall’s Narrator appears more thoughtful – knowing what will happen and unable to stop it but not trying to push the story forward. It’s almost as if he wanted nothing to do with what is going to happen. For me this is a great new take on the character.

The rest of the cast does a great job. There are several familiar faces in case you have been following the past productions. And although the show might feel a bit dated (and the set certainly looks it) this is a must see production. Blood Brothers is a beautifully sad story that will pull you in completely. It’s one of those emotionally draining nights out at the theatre. And I don’t know about you but I need one of those now and then.

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Blood Brothers is on tour until April 2017. Dean Chisnall is staying with the show for the rest of the tour. Joel Benedict has left the cast.

For tour dates and to book tickets go here.

Hamilton – Richards Rodgers Theatre, Broadway

1 Oct

Hamilton. I was convinced I would never get to see the show on Broadway. Tickets are like gold dust and no one ever wins the Hamilton lottery. Well, no one except my friend on our trip across the pond in September. Yes, that is correct – she won the Hamilton lottery and we saw the musical phenomenon, sitting in the front row for all of ten dollars each.

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Original Broadway Cast

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s piece about Alexander Hamilton has been wowing audiences ever since the show opened off-Broadway at the Public Theatre before moving to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in 2015. To be honest I feel like this show has been talked about so much already there really is no need for yet another review. Plus I could sum up my views in one word: Masterpiece.

However, I do want to share a few thoughts on the show now that I have actually seen it and not just listened to the score on repeat.

First of all, the staging is pure genius. It is surprisingly simple yet so very effective. Then you have the choreography that quite literally blows your mind. I caught myself sitting there with my mouth open desperately trying to take it all in and failing miserably. Things happen left, right and centre and all the while the most incredible cast delivers Lin-Manuel Miranda’s clever and witty lyrics. Usually I like to go into a new show unbiased, with little to no spoilers. In the case of Hamilton I knew the score inside out. And on this occasion that worked to my advantage. It is a word-heavy show and lyrics are delivered fast. I am convinced I would have missed important bits of the narrative if I had not known the score. Plus this gave me the chance to pay attention to everything else – lighting, choreography, the amazing dancers.

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Original Broadway Cast

Most of the original cast had already left when I saw the show but I can honestly say that did not affect my enjoyment one bit. Javier Munoz (formerly Lin-Manuel Miranda’s alternate) gives the performance of a lifetime as Hamilton. He commands the stage. And that voice – a pure pleasure to listen to.
Brandon Victor Dixon’s Aaron Burr is outstanding. The same goes for Mandy Gonzalez‘ Angelica Schuyler, Lexi Lawson’s Eliza Schuyler, Anthony Ramos‘ John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, Okieriete Onaodowan’s Hercules Mulligan/James Madison and Nicholas Christopher’s (understudy) George Washington. Then there’s Rory O’Malley’s hilarious King George – a true show stopper. Andrew Chappelle’s Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson is impressive even though he was the only one I struggled to understand at one point. But if you are familiar with the score you probably know that some of those lyrics have to be delivered at ridiculous speed. A special mention goes to Thayne Jasperson who is such an outstanding dancer I could hardly take my eyes off him.

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Javier Munoz as Alexander Hamilton

 

I will openly admit I was afraid Hamilton would end up being a slight disappointment simply because my expectations were so high. This show has been hyped to the roof and I was almost convinced it would never live up to said hype. I was wrong. That day I left the theatre both speechless and inspired and with the knowledge should I never get to see a musical ever again it would be alright. Because there is no way I am ever going to see a show again that will come close to Hamilton anyway. This is what perfection looks like – simple as that.

Shows like this come around maybe once in every generation. So when Hamilton opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in 2017 you better go check it out.

„Look around, look around how lucky we are to be alive right now“ should be every London theatre fan’s catch phrase because you will get the chance to watch Hamilton. „Just you wait“.

27 at the Cockpit Theatre

12 Sep

We seem to have a morbid fascination with stars on a path of self-destruction. Fame can put a lot of pressure on a person. And we have witnessed individuals struggle and fall again and again – from Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. 27, a new musical by Sam Cassidy, deals with this phenomenon: The road to fame and how quickly it can end in tragedy. Told as a modern fable we meet Jimmy (stage name: Orpheus) who is trying to get his big break with his band. He is young and full of dreams. One fateful day he meets Ms. M who introduces him to the CEO of Olympus Records. Orpheus becomes a star. But with stardom comes self-destruction.

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Sam Cassidy has written a story about love, loss and the price of fame wrapped in a mystical narrative. It is an interesting concept and most of the time it works. One could argue that turning the CEO of the record company into the devil and his assistant Ms. M into Medusa is a bit of a cliché. On the other hand this is a modern day fairytale with all its classic elements: Villains, magical ingredients, a challenge the main character has to face and a lesson to be learned.

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I enjoyed the score even though I did not find it particularly memorable. It serves the story with a good mix of upbeat rock songs and ballads. There are some strong voices in the cast, Jodie Jacobs (Fate) and Ryan Molloy (Hades) being the stand outs. Ryan Molloy in particular brings a special buzz to this production. His Hades is just the right mix of evil and funny and steals the show whenever he is on stage.
Cassie Compton is very sweet as Orpheus’ girlfriend Amy. Jack Donnelly (Max) deserves a special mention for his strong acting performance.

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The staging is innovative and works well in this intimate venue. A warning for those who do not handle strobe lighting well: There is a lot of it. Although the space is limited Arlene Phillips has put together a vibrant choreography using every inch of the stage (and more – watch out if you are sitting next to the stairs on any of the three sides of the auditorium).

Personally I think this show could do with a bit of tightening up. Act two in particular felt a bit too long with the quest lasting forever without seeming to go anywhere. Maybe a 90 – 100 minutes one act show would be the right thing for 27.

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I left the theatre impressed by the show’s concept and most of the cast. 27 is a new musical and will only grow with time. There is huge potential for a show with an important message and I hope it finds an audience willing to come along on the ride.

27 is playing at the Cockpit Theatre until October 22nd. For more info and to book tickets visit http://27-london.com.

10 Questions with Eugene McCoy

12 Sep

Eugene McCoy trained at ArtsEd. He has appeared in shows like Mamma Mia, American Psycho, The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, They’re Playing Our Song and Little Shop of Horrors. Eugene played the part of Nick Massi in the West End production of Jersey Boys from 2010 to 2013. At the moment you can catch him at the Old Vic Theatre in the world premiere of Groundhog Day.

Eugene kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his musical theatre journey so far, Groundhog Day, annoying audience behaviour and what the future might hold.

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How did you get into musical theatre and did you always want to be a performer?
I started performing when I was three years old – not professionally, of course. I left drama school when I was 21 so that’s when I started professionally. But I started singing, dancing and acting when I was 3. I danced until I was 12, four times a week, did lots of competitions and festivals but then I got really bad knees and had to stop. So I did more acting and singing from then on. I went to drama school when I was 18 for three years. I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to perform. I always said as a kid: “I’m going to be on the stage or on tv – this is what I want to do.”

What has been your favourite performing job so far and why?
I don’t have a single favourite one. Jersey Boys was amazing because it was my first big lead (role). The prestige of wearing that red jacket was so huge and I came in at the big first cast change for the Seasons. And I got to rehearse in New York, learn the show out there and then we came back and we were constantly doing PR, tv gigs, press and exciting events outside of work. The theatre was the best theatre and it was an amazing character to play and the audiences were crazy (in a good way). That was brilliant. But equally I loved The Pajama Game in Chichester in the small Minerva Theatre: I was very free on stage performing a character as extravagant as he was and got to sing, dance and act more than I’d done for a while. And then American Psycho at the Almeida was amazing. That show felt incredibly unique. So I have to say those three are the ones I remember most really.

How does it feel to be a part of Groundhog Day, working with people like Tim Minchin, Matthew Warchus and Peter Darling?
It feels so great to be part of Groundhog Day. I first auditioned last August and it was for the workshop. We did this big workshop in October and November last year for four weeks. So I auditioned for that originally with a view to doing the show. It was a case of if you did well in the workshop and they liked you then you got to do the show. I remember hearing about the project and I told my agent “I want to be in that show.” And when I knew I was going to be in it all just felt great and I was so excited. The prospect of working with this team was incredible – and in that theatre – it was a no brainer! It’s proved to be brilliant. It’s a hard show but it’s worth it. The team is lovely and they are making groundbreaking new theatre and not “just” old revivals. That’s what so exciting. It’s new theatre that will last.

Do you think people watch the show with very specific expectations (having seen the film)? How is the show different from the film?
I’ve never seen the film! Ha! But yes, people have expectations and most people I know who have seen the show and the movie actually say they prefer the show. Interesting! I will be watching the film in a week’s time (when the show is done).

What’s it like working with Andy Karl?
Horrendous! He stinks, he never washes…. No, joking! He is lovely, a very nice man, very hard working and brilliantly talented. I think he is going to become quite famous. And I think he is going to win every award for this show and he deserves to.

You’ve been in various shows over the past years. If you had to choose one show to go back into which one would it be?
I would like to do lots of my shows for maybe a week and no more. I’d love to do Mamma Mia for a week because I did it when I was much younger and it was really fun. I’d love to go and do Guys and Dolls again because the Donmar production at the Piccadilly Theatre was so special. It was a brilliant production and I’d like to go back and do that now that I’m a bit older. And I’d like to go back and do the big three and “Who loves you” at Jersey Boys because I never got bored of those. They were amazing to do every night.

Do you have a dream role or a show you would love to be in someday?
I’m not sure I do. It’s difficult for me being a bass singer. There are not many roles for me especially in new musicals so I’m often limited in what I can do in that sense. I always wanted to play Bert in Mary Poppins but I wouldn’t be able to dance it because my knees would concave and I would never be able to walk again. I would maybe like to be Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. I saw Jesus Christ Superstar recently and I’d like to sing Caiaphas because it’s a really low bass but it’s not a very exciting part to play if I’m honest. And I always wanted to be in The Producers because it’s amongst my favourite shows. In fact, I’d like to play any of the knights in the original big West End production of Spamalot as well. And playing Geoffrey in Stepping Out would be great.

What are the last musicals and/or plays you watched and which ones are on your “to see” list at the moment?
I’ve not seen anything because Groundhog Day has basically taken over my life for five months (apart from Jesus Christ Superstar as mentioned above!). The last thing I saw was People, Places and Things with Denise Gough which was the most amazing performance I’ve seen for so long and she was just outrageous and incredible. And that inspired me and had me buzzing for days and weeks. I want to go and see Yerma with Billie Pieper but I won’t get the chance unfortunately. She’s supposed to be incredible. And I’d like to see Funny Girl but I’m not sure I will get round to. I’d also liked to have seen Deep Blue Sea at the National with Helen McCrory because I think she’s brilliant. What else? I want to see Hamilton.

What are your top three pet peeves when it comes to (bad) audience behaviour?
I guess one is people who don’t throw flowers at me at the end because everyone really should…. Haha.
People who have their phones on and you can see the light when you’re looking out into the audience. That is really, really annoying. In a way, latecomers: If you are doing a scene and it’s really quiet and latecomers come in it’s really frustrating. And when I’m in the audience and people are eating sweets (those with the noisy wrappers). That drives me insane.

Why should people go and see Groundhog Day?
Because I don’t think you will see a better new musical for quite a while. And that might sound biased but I think it’s the best new musical for a long time. And it’s inspiring and it’s funny, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it’s clever. It’s really, really, really clever and witty. And the ensemble are the hardest working ensemble – I keep saying this but we really do work so hard. And if you want to see people sweat and you want to see me tap dancing in winter boots, a parka jacket and a woolly hat with a big smile – come and see Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day is playing at the Old Vic Theatre until 19th September. Public booking for the last performance on 19th September opens this Thursday.
http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/groundhog-day/

Follow Eugene on Twitter @McCoyEugene  .

Jesus Christ Superstar – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

19 Aug

Jesus Christ Superstar in an open air venue staged like a gig. The concept sounds intriguing and intrigued is what I was when I sat down to watch Regent’s Park Open Air Theate’s summer musical 2016.

First of all the set is wonderful. It’s quite simple but effective and doesn’t take anything away from the one thing that really makes this show: The cast. There’s Declan Bennett as Jesus who gives the role an almost folk-like touch. He’s the angsty leader, a saviour who has been cast in a role he did not ask for. His Gethsemane is a show stopper, sung with so much emotion it hurts the heart. On the other side there is Tyrone Huntley’s fierce Judas – furious with Jesus for not making a real difference and not standing up for himself and the people who worship him.

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Jesus Christ Superstar is a show that for me stands and falls with its two lead actors. You need a Jesus and a Judas who complement each other. And this is exactly what you get in this production. Declan Bennett’s Jesus has an almost eerie calmness surrounding him even in his most vocal moments of the show. Tyrone Huntley’s Judas on the other hand is loud and angry. It’s the perfect mix.

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The show has a strong supporting cast. David Thaxton’s Pilate is truly menacing, Peter Caulfield is possibly the most fabulous Herod I have ever seen and Anoushka Lucas is a sweet Mary Magdalene with a rich voice full of heart and soul.

Interaction between the characters seems to be missing at times possibly due to the concert staging of the show. While Jesus Christ Superstar always has a concert element to it this production goes one step further letting the performers use hand mics and even instruments on stage. At times it does feel like one after the other is coming on stage to sing a song – even when addressing another character the performer would sometimes look at the audience.

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The ensemble works hard – the times they stand still are very limited in this production. While I find Drew McOnie’s choreographie impressive and imaginative I feel there is slightly too much of it here. But seeing Genesis Lynea dance is such a treat so I am not complaining too much.

Then there is the glitter – so much of it. I am a bit torn about the use of it. While I think it is an interesting artistic choice the pure amount of glittery gold on stage seems ridiculous at times. On the other hand having a bloody, beaten and broken Jesus covered in glitter at the end of the show is a haunting image that surely leaves an impression.

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All in all this is a vibrant and imaginative new production of one Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest (my opinion) musicals. It’s not a flawless show but the positive certainly outweighs the negative and the brilliant cast alone make this a production not to be missed.

Jesus Christ Superstar runs at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre until August 27th 2016. For more info visit: https://openairtheatre.com/production/jesus-christ-superstar The rest of the run is currently sold out but returns may become available.

Groundhog Day at the Old Vic Theatre

16 Aug

I admit I was in doubt about Groundhog Day the moment the musical version was announced: Another film to stage production – as if we haven’t had enough of those already. Plus we are talking about Groundhog Day here. The film is a classic in my eyes and the main character Phil Connors – the man who has to live through the same day over and over again – has been defined by Bill Murray’s portrayal. However, I am happy to report my doubts vanished the moment the show started.

I’ve seen Andy Karl (Phil Connors) on stage before. He was my highlight in On the Twentieth Century on Broadway last year. So having him in London is a treat in itself. But seeing him in the West End doing such an incredible job playing what must be one of the hardest male leads in town right now is downright mind-blowing. Andy Karl is not trying to be Bill Murray. Andy Karl is Phil Connors – funny, a bit of a prick, arrogant, sometimes downright nasty but in the end someone who learns to use second chances to become a better person. I cannot fault his portrayal in any way. I do not say this often but he is 100% perfect in this role.

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It is not easy to shine next to a lead performer who basically commands the stage throughout the show. Carlyss Peer does well as Rita Hanson but sadly the character itself seems a bit underdeveloped in comparison to Phil Connors. And even though the show is all about repeating things I found myself being a bit bored by her singing the same song over and over. This is not Carlyss Peer’s fault at all but simply the way the character has been written.

The whole ensemble is working amazingly hard in this show and there is no weak link to report. I am not convinced by the act two opening number which – despite being sung beautifully by Georgina Hagen (Nancy) – seemed a bit pointless and out-of-place. Andrew Langtree as Ned Ryerson has a lovely song in act two which I really enjoyed even though I wish we had learned a bit more about the character himself. Eugene McCoy as camera man Larry is perfectly cast and provides some wonderfully dry humour. Stand outs in the ensemble for me are Kieran Jae (Fred) and Ste Clough (Jeff) – both great to watch in the ensemble scenes and their solo bits.

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A set that is simple but imaginative makes sure the narrative does not get pushed into the background. Some of the scene changes are beyond clever – I am still trying to figure out how they are done. I am not going to spoil it but if you watch the show and can tell me how the shower to bed scene change works – comment below (with a spoiler tag).

The music in the show drives the story forward with clever lyrics and nice melodies. I have not been humming the songs since but Tim Minchin has written a score that fits in perfectly with the tone of the show. It is not a score I would listen to at home but I really enjoyed the music while watching the show.

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All in all Groundhog Day is without a doubt one of the most exciting new musicals I have seen in the past years. It is like a breeze of fresh air in the world of musical theatre. I highly recommend you go see this show while you have the chance to catch it in the West End. Hopefully I will be able to watch Groundhog Day on Broadway next year – this is a transfer that just needs to happen.

Groundhog Day is running at the Old Vic Theatre until September 17th 2016. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/groundhog-day/

Matt Wycliffe – Debut Album Campaign

19 Jul

If you are  a theatre fan (and if you are reading you probably are) you will have come across numerous West End performers doing crowd funding campaigns. Several of you might even have support one or more of said campaigns. And if there is one thing we all know it’s that we can’t just spend our money on anything.

That’s why I rarely promote a performer’s crowd funding campaign through this blog. I only ever do it when I am 100% convinced I am promoting something that will be worth my and your money.

Having seen Matt Wycliffe in several shows over the years and having witnesses his impressive skills not only as a singer but also as a musician I feel supporting his album campaign is something all of you should definitely consider.

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He has put together an Indiegogo crowdfunding page with a whole bunch of fun perks. There’s something for everyone: From digital album downloads to physical albums plus bonus EP, tickets for Matt’s new theatrical venture “A Million Dollar Quartet” (there are backstage tours available too), a signed electric guitar and private gigs.

Check out the campaign!

Support by pledging for one of the perks (or more – go spoil yourself!). And please spread the word: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, tell your friends at school or at work….

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Make sure to keep up to date with all the latest updates by following Matt on Twitter @MattWycliffe .

The Color Purple – Jacobs Theatre, Broadway -25th June 2016

12 Jul

I remember watching the very first preview of The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I remember being excited to see the first public performance of what promised to be a great production. And I remember leaving the theatre slightly underwhelmed. I did not dislike the show back then and I was impressed by Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of Celie. But I wasn’t amazed by the production either. I figured it just was not my kind of musical and decided I had seen it once now and that would be enough.

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When the production transferred to Broadway I had no intention of watching it. And I kept it at that until that day they announced Jennifer Hudson’s replacement as Shug Avery: Heather Headley. There are a few performers who will make me watch literally anything. Heather is one of them.

And so I found myself in the orchestra (= stalls, for those of you not familiar with Broadway theatre) to see a show I was sure I would find ok but not great. Then the show started and my theatrical heart exploded.

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There was Cynthia Erivo literally laying her soul out for everyone to see. Her Celie is vulnerable but strong, she is fearless and determined – it is impossible to not love her.

Danielle Brooks as Sofia made me laugh and cry – a powerful force on stage.

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And then there was Heather Headley, my reason to revisit the show and the one person I had the highest expectations for. If you are waiting for me to say I was underwhelmed you will be disappointed. Heather Headley’s Shug Avery is sublime. With a voice smooth as velvet Heather commands the stage. She’s feisty and funny and strong and sexy – she just IS Shug Avery.

It’s impossible to find a weak link in the cast. From Isaiah Johnson’s Mister to Kyle Scatliffe’s Harpo, Joaquina Kalukango’s Nettie and everyone in the Ensemble this is pure class on stage.

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I went into this show expecting to love Heather Headley’s performance. I walked out of the theatre having my faith in musical theatre restored. As long as productions like this exist musical theatre is alive. The Color Purple made my heart sing and I am grateful Heather Headley joined this production – not just because she was sensational but also because without her I would never have made the journey to watch this show. And my soul needed a show like The Color Purple – in fact I think every soul can do with a show like this now and then.

The Color Purple is on at the Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. For more info and to book tickets please visit: http://www.colorpurple.com