Tag Archives: Ben Freeman

Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre – 10th November 2012

14 Nov

It has been a while since I last saw Wicked.  I used to go a lot when the show first started and I’ve always enjoyed my trips to the Emerald City. I guess Wicked is just one of those shows that need someone in the cast I really want to see to get me booking again.

And with Louise Dearman taking over as Elphaba and Jason Winter joining the ensemble that has happened at the end of October.

First of all I think Wicked is a superb show. It has some gorgeous songs, great characters and an interesting and catching storyline. I have always been a fan of big voices so for me the show stands and falls with the singing abilities of the leads. Acting is important as well, of course, but personally I can forgive some acting glitches as long as I get blown away by the singing (I know it’s the other way round for others).

I have seen Louise Dearman as Glinda and I loved her take on the park. She was funny without going completely over the top and her singing was fantastic. Her Elphaba is acted flawlessly in my opinion. She manages just the right mix of vulnerability and anger and makes Elphaba a character I can feel for and whose motives I can follow. I admit I wasn’t completely convinces by her singing during act one. Her “Wizard and I” was good but not outstanding and she seemed to struggle with the high notes at the end of “Defying Gravity”. However, her “No good deed” was absolutely stunning and the best I’ve heard since Kerry Ellis (who I adored in the part vocally). I’m sure Louise will be a brilliant Elphaba once she has settled into the role a bit more and has gotten used to singing those difficult songs night after night.

It was my first time seeing Gina Beck’s Glinda (that shows how long I haven’t watched the show!) and I fell in love with her portrayal right from the start. Her singing is nothing but amazing and I loved that she manages to balance the part properly. She is funny while still keeping the character real.

Ben Freeman has taken over as Fiyero and I admit I was sceptical towards him in the part after seeing him as Warner in Legally Blonde (yes, I didn’t enjoy his portrayal). I did however try and watch him with an open mind. Sadly I ended up not liking his Fiyero at all. His acting was alright but to me he looked slightly out-of-place most of the time and I didn’t feel any chemistry between him and Louise. Plus his singing was weak compared to the previous Fiyeros I have seen.

Having played the part in the Original London Cast Katie Rowley Jones has returned to play Nessarose. I loved her when I first saw her years ago and I still love her now. For me she plays Nessa just how she should be played.

I wasn’t too impressed by Sam Lupton as Boq. He’s missing cuteness if that makes any sense. James Gillian is still the best Boq I have seen because he was simply beyond adorable. Sam came across as too secure and lacked a bit of the little boy charm Boq should have.

Keith Barlett is doing a fine job as the Wizard. I don’t really like the tone of his singing voice but that is just my personal preference. I really enjoyed seeing Louise Plowright as Madame Morrible. Same goes for Christopher Howell as Dr. Dillamond.

The new ensemble appears fresh and full of enthusiasm which is a joy to watch. These guys and girls will be absolutely fantastic once they been in the show a few more weeks. And I’m really looking forward to seeing some of them in their cover parts – especially Jason Winter as Fiyero who I think will be quite amazing.

Wicked is still a blockbuster of a show and fun to watch. The current cast is – with few exceptions – one of the best I’ve seen in the London production. I definitely recommend a visit even if you’ve seen the show before with a different cast. It’s worth going again to see the new guys and girls for sure.

Wicked is playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/.

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Legally Blonde – January 14th 2012 (matinee)

24 Jan

You guys! It was time for yet another trip to the Savoy Theatre to see the equally talented and lovely Stephen Ashfield (and the rest of the cast, of course) in Legally Blonde.

 

This show has to be the ultimate feel good piece of theatre around. I always end up with the songs stuck in my head and I just love how clever the lyrics are despite the rather “light” character of the whole show.

 

Carley Stenson once again delivered a good performance as Elle. She will never be my favourite Elle (that spot is shared by Sheridan Smith an Susan McFadden) but I do think she fits the part and it’s great to see her add little bits and pieces to her portrayal now and then. It shows that she is still working on and developing the character – something I always appreciate.

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Stephen Ashfield – what can I say about the guy that I haven’t already mentioned? I loved Alex as Emmett and I didn’t think anyone could ever properly replace him. But Stephen has done just that and has definitely made the character his own. His Emmett is cheeky and lovable and I can’t help but have a smile on my face whenever he appears on stage.
Never mind the slight glitch during “There! Right there!”…. it made me laugh for sure so thank you Stephen for the extra entertainment. Ha!

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I was so glad the fabulous Jane McMurtrie was on for Brooke again. She is by far my favourite person in the role (and in any other part I’ve seen her in so far). I sometimes wonder how she does it though – that woman definitely is super swing! Besides being on for Brooke she also played Elle’s mum during act one (yes, they were short on cast once again).

Ben Freeman does nothing for me as Warner I have to say. I always feel as if he doesn’t take his part seriously and therefore kind of ridicules Warner by completely over-acting the character.

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I love Ellie Kirk’s Margot and Lucy Miller’s Serena. In fact Lucy was my favourite Serena right from the start (I was lucky enough to see her understudy the part on one of my first ever visits to the show). Abiona Omonua’s Pilar hasn’t really found her way into my heart yet. She’s a bit over the top in her interpretation if you ask me.

 

Highlight of this performance has to be Ruthie Stephenson as Paulette though. Oh my God, how amazing is she?! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really don’t like Natalie Casey’s Paulette. So I’m always happy to see an understudy and most of the times that has been Sorelle Marsh who so far was my favourite Paulette right after Jill Halfpenny. I’m saying “was” because that spot has been taken over by Ruthie now. She managed to get all the laughs without ridiculing the character and her Paulette was so utterly lovable that I wanted to hug her after “Ireland” (which was sung beautifully – the high note at the end was incredible!).

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Big shout out for Chris Ellis-Stanton who IS Kyle – simple as that. I’ve seen different understudies over the year and while none of them was bad they all weren’t Chris either.

And I’d like to say that I really, really want to see Lincoln Stone’s Professor Callahan again. I do think Peter Davison does a great job but Lincoln was absolutely fantastic on that one occasion I got to see him.

 

Legally Blonde is one of those shows I can watch over and over again… when I really like the cast. And with few exceptions I do like the current cast a lot. So, bring on the next visit!

 

For more info on Legally Blonde and to book tickets go to: http://www.legallyblondethemusical.co.uk

Legally Blonde – October 15th 2011 (eve)

20 Oct

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Legally Blonde. I used to go a lot during the first year of the show as I just loved the cast and really enjoyed the show. And I still think it’s a great musical with a catchy score and some very clever lyrics. But me being me I tend to watch shows more when I know someone in the cast and that just wasn’t the case anymore after the first cast change back in October 2010.

I have seen the last cast a few times though (although I completely missed out on Lee Mead’s Emmett) and thought they were a good bunch of performers. I was never keen on Denise van Outen’s Paulette and I missed quite a few past cast members but all in all I’ve always liked the show and the cast.

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So, the first Saturday after the latest cast change marked my return visit to Legally Blonde after several months. Thanks to a friend I ended up in the front row for a tenner – you can’t go wrong with that! And this brings us to the show – or better – the cast:

First of all there’s Carley Stenson as Elle. Having seen Sherdian, Amy and Susan on previous visits I’m afraid to say I didn’t enjoy her performance that much. She is no bad Elle, don’t get me wrong! But for me she lacks that certain sparkle and I didn’t feel for her Elle straight away (as I did when I saw Sheridan, Susan and Amy). Maybe I just need to see her a few times though so I reserve my final judgement for some other time.

Stephen Ashfield has taken over as Emmett. He was my main reason for going to see the show again that soon after cast change. I’ve loved Stephen’s Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys and have been lucky enough to see him on stage in his own Cabaret show at Lauderdale House, in Bewitched, bothered and bewildered at Jermyn Street Theatre and at the Summer with the composers Cabaret on the Battersea Barge. And of course there was no way I would not go and see him as Emmett in Legally Blonde. And although he’s only been in the show for a very short time he has already made Emmett his own. I absolutely loved „Chip on my shoulder“ – he even hits the high note at the end! Stephen’s Emmett really is beyond adorable (and quite cheeky at times). Definitely the highlight in this cast for me and more than enough reason to go back and watch the show again.

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Natalie Casey as Paulette – I don’t know how to put it without sounding incredibly rude. I’m sure Natalie is a lovely person but I’m sorry to say I hate her Paulette. She has made the character into a complete idiot, a comic figur without heart. It’s a shame as Paulette is supposed to be funny but I doubt she’s supposed to come across as being stoned and completely stupid all the time. So thank you but no, thank you.

Peter Davison has been with the show since it started. And he’s still doing a great job as Professor Callahan.

Ben Freeman ist the new Warner. The part itself is rather bland I think. However Warner should at least have a certain ammount of charisma. Unfortunately that is exactly what Ben lacks. His voice is ok but nothing special and his acting is rather wooden (even more wooden than the character himself). Hopefully he will settle into the part with time. Considering there were special circumstances (his wife went into labour) I can imagine his mind must have been elsewhere so I’ll just wait and see if I enjoy his performance more next time.

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Jane McMurtrie was on for Brooke and I have to say I prefer her to Tamara Wall who I have seen a few times already. I really have no idea how Jane manages to handle her job in Legally Blonde – Dance Captain and definitely Miss Super Swing, sometimes covering 2 or 3 tracks during a show. No matter in what part I’ve seen her she has always stood out for me – and I mean in a good way! I guess it’s her energy which seems to know no limits. I can hardly watch anyone else whenever she’s on stage. So, hopefully this hasn’t been the last time I’ve seen her as Brooke, a part which she played brilliantly (special kudos for „Whipped into shape“ which was such a joy to watch).

Tricia Adele-Turner did a good job as Vivienne but out of the 4 girls I have now seen in the part she is so far my least favourite. Her voice seemed a bit weak and I don’t think her and Ben have as much stage chemistry as previous Warner and Vivienne combos. And someone needs to sort out her make-up – it didn’t look natural at all.

Ellie Kirk, Lucy Miller and Abiona Omonua are Margot, Serena and Pilar (Elle’s best friends). Lucy used to be a swing in the show and she has always been my favourite Serena so I’m more than happy she’s taken over the part full time now. I really liked Ellie’s Margot and thought Abiona’s Pilar was ok but she still needs to settle down a bit.

Gemma Sutton is fantastic as Enid. So funny! I didn’t think Suzie McLean could be replaced but Gemma is just brilliant.

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The one and only Chris Ellis-Stanton is still playing Kyle and to be honest I couldn’t imagine someone else in the role full time. I’ve seen understudies and while none of them was bad they just weren’t Chris either. The man just fits the role perfectly.

Out of the ensemble I’d like to give a special shout out to Jon Tsouras who is playing Nikos now. I’ve seen Jon in several shows and always thought he was a really talented performer. It’s great to see him in a part that allows him to show of his comic talent. His Nikos was hilarious to watch. I loved it!

Nick Hayes as Pforzheimer was beyond funny but very camp – whilst that did make me laugh I’m not sure it really suits the character.

I love Lincoln Stone’s portrayal of Elle’s dad and it’s good to see Sorelle Marsh his still in the cast as that means I may have the chance to see her Paulette again.

So, all in all I enjoyed the show and will definitely be back. If only they would still have Jill Halfpenny as Paulette and Simon Thomas as Warner – but hey, I’m not complaining as long as I get to see Stephen’s Emmett.

Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre, for more infos and to book tickets go to http://www.legallyblondethemusical.co.uk