Tag Archives: Declan Bennett

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.

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Photo Gallery: The Phoenix Collective and Declan Bennett at The Boogaloo

19 Jul

The Phoenix Collective (formed by members of the original London cast of Once the musical) and Declan Bennett got together at The Boogaloo on 12th July together with a number of other artists for an afternoon of music.

Here’s a little photo collection of the gig.

If you like good music I urge you to watch out for upcoming gigs of The Phoenix Collective. Check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @Feenicksband .

 

Theatrical highlights of 2013

25 Dec

It’s that time of year again where I want to take a moment and name my theatrical highlights of the past 12 months. I know a lot of theatre websites and blogs publish their personal “best and worst” but I’ve decided to concentrate on the good things and not name and shame shows and such that were not to my taste.

So here goes, in no particular order. Lets start with my show highlights of 2013.

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Once the musical (Phoenix Theatre)

I admit I had been listening to the soundtrack for months before I first saw the West End production of this show and I kind of knew I was in for a treat when I stepped inside the Phoenix Theatre on a Saturday evening in March. However, I couldn’t have imagined this show would have such a huge impact on my theatre life. Once is by far the most beautiful thing I have seen on a stage for a long time. It’s such a sweet and simple show that touches your heart and soul. I have become a regular at the Phoenix Theatre over the past months and I intend to keep watching and supporting this show. Everyone involved in this production deserves the biggest round of applause for bringing Once to life in London’s West End. Thank you for some of the finest moments I’ve spent in a theatre this year.

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Sweeney Todd (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester)

This production was everything I hoped it would be and more. A brilliant cast and fantastic staging. This is the way a show like this should be presented to the audience. I was thrilled from start to end.

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The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time (Apollo Theatre)

This play has been around for a while but it took me until this year to finally go and see it. Having read the book years ago I had no idea how it would be possible to transfer this story to the stage. To say I was amazed after my first visit would be an understatement. I left the theatre completely blown away by the staging, the set and the cast. I really hope this play has a future after the tragic events the other week (thoughts are with everyone affected).

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Bare (Greenwich Theatre)

I went to see this without knowing anything about the show except a few songs. It was one of those “So-and-so is in it so I’m going to see it” kind of visits. What can I say? I loved it. It made me laugh and it made me cry and I wish I could have seen it more than just once.

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Mojo (Harold Pinter Theatre)

I went to see this because I just couldn’t miss out on seeing this cast on stage together. It may not be the strongest play but it was one of my most memorable theatrical evenings of 2013 thanks to the wonderfully talented cast.

Obviously I have seen and enjoyed a lot more shows, some of which I’ve been watching again and again for years. But the five productions above are my stand outs of all new (at least for me) shows I’ve seen this year. Lets go on with my highlights when it comes to performers in 2013. Please note that I’m not only choosing from the list of performers I’ve seen for the first time in 2013. But I am only including performers I have seen on stage this year in one or more productions. Again, this list has no particular order.

Declan Bennett
He is currently playing Guy in Once the musical as well as doing gigs in London (and recently New York) now and then. I could seriously listen to Declan singing for hours. His voice makes my heart smile – as cliché as it may sound.

Heather Headley
For me this lady is a singing goddess, simple as that. I adore her voice and I loved seeing her on stage in The Bodyguard more times than I should possibly admit. I think she’s stunning through and through.

Ryan Molloy
I’ve been following Ryan’s career for the past 6 years and he still manages to amaze me. His voice is incredible and he is one of those people who were just born to be on stage. On top of that he is a wonderful person and I’m happy and proud to call myself a supporter.

Ben Wheeler
Ben has been a swing at Jersey Boys in London for the past six years. Not only is he by far my favourite Tommy DeVito, he has proven that he is one of the most talented and versatile performers this production has ever seen.

Jill Winternitz
I admit I’m not the biggest fan of Dirty Dancing the musical. However, I am a huge fan of this lovely lady. Jill is currently playing Baby in Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre and she is one of the reason I find this production hugely enjoyable.

Stephen Ashfield
I haven’t listed The Book of Mormon in my show highlights of 2013 even though I did enjoy the show a lot. I am however a bit tired of the never-ending hype surrounding the production (good for them though, it’s always great to see a show selling well). And when I think about it the real highlight in this show is Stephen. In my eyes he is the star, he is what makes me want to go and see this show again at some point. I’ve been supporting Stephen for a few years now and I have loved him in every single show I’ve seen him in, from Jersey Boys to Legally Blonde, Boy meets Boy, Book of Mormon etc. Stephen is brilliant, full stop.

Ian McIntosh
He never really caught my eye in Rock of Ages. I remember seeing him on stage a few times but for me he didn’t stand out. Then I went and watched The Commitments and he happened to be playing Deco that evening. I was blown away! That voice is quite simply insane and I cannot praise his performance high enough. Ian is a future leading man, I’m absolutely sure of it.

Ben Whishaw
I’ve been dying to see Ben Whishaw on stage ever since I watched Perfume – Story of a Murderer ages ago. So as you can imagine this year has been a dream for me in that sense – Ben appearing in not just one but two plays in the West End. I loved him in Peter and Alice and I was completely stunned watching him in Mojo. It’s very rare to see such an incredibly talented actor on stage, someone who doesn’t just play his part but who seems to truly become the character he is playing.

Luke Treadaway
This man amazed me with his portrayal of Christopher Boone in Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time. His performance was so real and honest – I am still in awe just thinking about it.

And finally I’m adding a group of people to the list because I honestly can’t just name a few of them – these guys and girls are all stars:

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The cast of Once the musical
It’s very rare to see a cast that fits together so incredibly well. This group of people – all incredibly talented individuals – have come together and created something magical at the Phoenix Theatre. As much as I love Once as a show, I absolutely adore its cast and I cannot thank them enough for the music, the laughs and the tears. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And that’s it everyone. There have been a lot more performers who have made me smile, laugh and generally filled my theatre-loving heart with joy. I could try and name them all but we’d still be here next year and I’m sure you all have better things to do than going through a list of names.

All that’s left to do now is to thank all of you for being interested in my blog. Thanks for reading and commenting and thanks for keeping in touch on Twitter. I do hope I have managed to provide at least a few half interesting reviews, interviews and such. I’ll try my best to keep you interested in 2014. I’ve got a few new shows on the agenda soon so there should be new reviews up in the not to far away future.
Please continue to comment and tweet. It’s always lovely to hear from fellow theatregoers and all you people working in the industry.

I hope each and everyone of you is having a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy the last days of 2013 and here’s to a great 2014 full of theatrical fun.

xx

Declan Bennett – Record:Breakup live at the Borderline – 18th August 2013

20 Aug

Declan Bennett ist currently playing the role of Guy in Once the musical at London’s Phoenix Theatre. His album Record:Breakup has just been re-released as a live and unplugged version. To celebrate this event Declan played an intimate gig at The Borderline in London, a small venue in the heart of Soho.

If you’re familiar with Declan’s music you know that his songs are personal and sometimes almost painfully honest. Record:Breakup is a collection of songs dealing with an end in sight, songs about moving on and leaving things behind.
Declan has one of those voices I could listen to constantly for days without getting bored. He sings with such raw emotion that listening to him almost makes you feel like an intruder. But then this is exactly what makes Declan’s music so special. He lets his audience in. There are no boundaries – we get to see his inner feelings through his music.

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The Boderline proved to be the perfect space for this stripped back acoustic gig – Declan and his guitar accompanied by Gareth O’Connor for most of the songs. Songs like “Freer” and “Parachute” turned out to be amongst the audience’s favourites. My personal highlights have to be the beautifully sad “Not allowed”, “Straight in your face” and “Love wins”. The latter was a wonderful ending to the most personal gig I have been to so far. It was almost enchanting to see Declan perform these songs – he clearly put his heart and soul into every single tune and loved sharing all of them with his audience.
Declan Bennett is one of those rare talents who knows how to combine thoughtful lyrics with great melodies. His music is real and truthful and hearing him sing makes you feel like he is telling you a story – a story of love and loss, of joy and pain. There’s no holding back, nothing that won’t be told exactly like it is.

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I honestly hope we will get to hear more of this amazingly talented guy in the future. He deserves to be seen by more people.

Make sure to catch Declan as Guy in Once the musical at the Phoenix Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go here.

Keep an eye on Declan’s website to stay up to date about possible future gigs. And don’t forget to follow the man himself on Twitter @thisainttherapy .
And please do yourself a favour and download his album Record:Breakup live and unplugged.

For more photos of the gig visit my Facebook page.

Declan Bennett to perform at The Borderline in August

22 Jul

I rarely promote concerts and the likes in my blog but now and then an artist comes along that just deserves a special mention. Declan Bennett is such an artist. Currently playing the role of Guy in the London production of Once he will be presenting his new release “record: BREAKUP” live and acoustic at The Borderline, London on 18th August 2013.

Borderline Gig

Shamelessly “stolen” from his website, here is what others have to say about Declan’s music.

‘Uncut ‘ **** (four-star review of An Innocent Evening of Drinking) ‘ Far more than a showbiz wannabe.. Bennett has crafted some unusual variations on the acoustic singer-songwriter template… frequently gripping lyrics’ Adam Sweeting

‘GT’ **** (four-star review of An Innocent Evening of Drinking) ‘Declan’s soulful vocals glide through the chatty, reflective lyrics. His strong songwriting deserves a wider audience.’

‘Rock’n’Reel’ **** (four-star review of ‘An Innocent Evening of Drinking’) ‘A writer who can move effortlessly from the conversational, the confessional, statements of intent, to the poetic, moving and tender, Bennett’s songs deliver a powerful emotional punch without ever resorting to the usual singer-songwriter trap of over-introspection.’ Colin Hall

‘He has a voice full of emotion and yearning, his lyrics and melodies have a pop edge without being lazy or radio-desperate’ Boy George writing about Declan Bennett in ‘Time Out London’

‘I’m absolutely convinced that Declan Bennett is going to be massive. I have his album on constant repeat’ ‘Little Britain’s’ Matt Lucas

‘Declan is the real thing. He sings from the heart, and I defy anyone not to be touched by his songs’ – Linda Thompson

I first listened to Declan’s music after seeing him in Once and I can honestly say I agree with all of the above statements. His songs are honest, emotional and real. His voice has a raw quality and draws you into the songs. I urge you to give his music a listen. You can find his albums on iTunes.

Don’t miss out on Declan’s first gig since his return to the West End. Get your tickets to see him at The Borderline on 18th August here.

Find out more about Declan by visiting his website. And follow the man himself on Twitter @thisainttherapy .

Once – Social Media Call – 20th May 2013

26 May

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Once Social Media Call which took place at the Phoenix Theatre on 20th May. A selected group of social media representatives had the opportunity to watch songs from the musical and attend a Question and Answer session with the cast afterwards.

Since we were encouraged to take photos and film as much as we like I decided to feature this event in pictures and clips. As some of you will know Once has quickly become one of my favourite shows and I just cannot praise this beautiful piece of theatre enough. So if you have been unsure whether to buy a ticket so far please have a look at the clips and photos and hopefully they will convince you to give the show a try. And if you have had the pleasure of watching Once already you will hopefully enjoy seeing some pictures and clips from the show and its cast. Don’t forget to book tickets for a return visit because one thing is for sure: Once is not enough!

Cast for the Social Media Call

Guy: Declan Bennett
Girl: Zrinka Cvitesic
Baruska: Valda Aviks
Svec: Ryan Fletcher
Billy: Aidan Kelly
Eamon: Gareth O’Connor
Da: Michael O’Connor
Ex Girlfriend: Miria Parvin
Andre: Jos Slovick
Reza: Flora Spencer-Longhurst
Bank Manager: Jamie Cameron
Emcee: Gabriel Vick

The North Strand

 

When your mind’s made up

 

Falling Slowly

 

Question & Answer session (sorry for the poor sound quality)

For more information about the show please visit http://www.oncemusical.co.uk/.

Follow the show on Twitter for the latest news and updates @OnceMusicalLDN

Declan Bennett: “I’ve been waiting for something to bring me home.”

6 Apr

With a lead role in the pop biography Taboo at 21 Declan Bennett’s career in musical theatre started at an early age. He  played Roger in Rent both on tour in the US and on Broadway and appeared in the original cast of Green Day’s American Idiot on Broadway.

Being a singer songwriter Declan writes music with gripping, reflective lyrics. His album “An Innocent Evening Of Drinking” was released in 2008. His latest album “record: BREAKUP” is out now.

Declan has returned to the UK stage to play the part of Guy in the Tony Award winning musical Once. He kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the show, his career and what it’s like to be back on stage in the UK.

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Once is currently in previews at the Phoenix Theatre in London after playing in Dublin for 2 weeks. What has your journey with the show been like so far?
Its been great, demanding, lovely, tough, tiring, a good laugh and extremely challenging. I moved back to London from New York for the production and I started rehearsals the day after I landed so I feel like I’m only just adjusting to British life once again.

It has been a while since you have appeared in the West End. How does it feel to be back?
Feels lovely. I’ve been waiting for something to bring me home and this couldn’t be more perfect. I love New York and I love living there. But London feels like home. And to be back in the West End, particularly when there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening here this year feels great.

Once is presented as a musical. Personally I would call it a play with music. How would you describe the show to someone who knew nothing about it?
I agree. It’s a play about music. It’s not your average play and it’s not your average musical. It sits in this quiet little corner on its own not trying to be anything it isn’t and not shouting too loud about itself.

Being a singer-songwriter yourself, how far can you relate to Guy?
The similarities are almost embarrassing. Haha. It’s a role that I identify with very strongly for a lot of reasons. But there’s a healthy distance between us which is also important!

Doing the show eight times a week is vocally demanding. Are any of the songs particularly hard to sing? How do you keep your voice in good shape?
Living like a bloody nun….Who has the odd whiskey every now and again. This is without a doubt the most vocally challenging experience I’ve ever had. When I first started on the role, songs like “Leave” and “Say it to me now” felt like these uphill climbs that I was unsure I could reach the top of. So I made it my absolute priority to learn about my voice and how to get the most out of it. I started singing when I was 14. I am finally learning how to sing at 32.

You released your latest album in 2011 and have done gigs in the USA last year. Are you planning any gigs while you are in London?
Yes I am. I’m releasing a live album shortly and a new album towards the end of the year. Once we’re officially open I’ll start doing some gigs around the UK. I can’t wait for that.

Would you like to do more theatre in the future or would you prefer to concentrate on your own music?
I want to keep working on creative projects that stimulate me and make me jazzed to get up in the morning. Whatever form that takes doesn’t matter. I’m currently writing songs like a maniac which is good and I’m working on a solo performance art piece that blends live gig and theatre based on my 2nd album “An Innocent Evening of Drinking”. It’s keeping my creative juices flowing.

Why should people come to see Once?
Because it will sit you down, put its arms around you and remind you what it feels like to be alive.

Visit http://www.declanbennett.co.uk/ for more info on Declan and his music. You can buy his albums on iTunes .
Get tickets to see him in Once at http://www.oncemusical.co.uk/.

Follow Declan on Twitter @thisainttherapy

Once at the Phoenix Theatre – 23rd March 2013

26 Mar

Now and then a show comes along that stands out amongst the masses, a show that is different, a show that touches your heart. A show like that has just found its way into London’s West End. Once tells the story of a man and a woman who remain nameless and are simply known as Guy and Girl. Guy’s girlfriend has moved to New York, his music career is at a standstill. Girl approaches him in a bar after hearing him sing and sensing his crisis. These two individuals who have never met before quickly connect through their passion for music yet they are both fighting their own inner battles which prevent them from being together.

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Once is an eight time Tony Award winning show which has been playing on Broadway to sell out houses for the past year. In the West End transfer Declan Bennett takes on the role of the Guy, an Irish busker who works as a vacuum cleaner repairmen in his father’s shop in Dublin. Declan portrays the part with a raw intensity which makes it hard to take your eyes of him whenever he is on stage. Those of you who know the Broadway cast recording (or have been lucky enough to see Once on Broadway) will notice that Declan’s voice has more of a rock tone to it and is slightly more edgy than Steve Kazee’s voice (Guy in the Original Broadway cast). Personally I enjoyed this different approach to the songs enormously. For me Declan’s voice has quite a mesmerising sound to it and I could happily listen to him singing “Falling slowly” on repeat for hours. His Guy is a man on the verge of giving up on his dreams, unsure of what to do with his life. He meets Girl, played by Zrinka Cvitesic, and after leaving his first surprise and bewilderment at this unknown woman’s bold intrusion behind he quickly feels a strong connection to her. Zrinka Cvitesic’s Girl is the perfect portrayal of a woman who is attempting to come to terms with her own life while trying to break down the wall Guy has built around himself. These two individuals connect through the one thing they both love: Music. And whenever Zrinka sits down and plays the piano the audience just listens in awe.

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Once is one of these rare stories that touch your heart and soul. It is a beautiful piece of theatre that reminds you that music knows no boundaries. Music can bring people together and help them connect on a deeply emotional level.

This show left me emotionally drained. It is a gorgeous play with music (I wouldn’t call it a musical in the common sense). There are no huge sets or fancy costumes – this show is all about telling a story through songs and that is what makes it so special. It reminds us how powerful good storytelling combined with beautiful songs performed by an amazingly talented cast can be.

The set is an Irish pub that serves as an on stage bar before the start of the performance and in the interval. The cast come on stage to play a few Irish folk tunes while the audience gets to mingle on stage, have a drink and watch. This sets a nice tone for this intimate show. The few set changes are done by rearranging a few chairs or tables – simple but effective. One of the most beautiful scenes is set on top of a hill overlooking the city. This is probably one of the most tender scenes you will ever see on a stage – it’s a gorgeous moment in a heartbreakingly beautiful show.

There is now weak link in the supporting cast. The special thing about this show is that the cast acts, sings and plays all instruments – the amount of talent on stage is just amazing. These guys and girls are all stars and one of the reason this show is such a wonderful night out in London’s West End.

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I know Once is a bit of an outsider at this point arriving in town at the same time as The Book of Mormon and just two months before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is opening at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The West End is full of flashy shows that compete for an audience at the moment. So you might think Once doesn’t have a lot to offer with that one little set, a score with an Irish touch and a few actors on stage who play their own instruments. However, I’m telling you this is exactly why Once should be on top of your list of must see shows. It’s a unique piece of theatre that concentrates on telling a beautiful love story through songs. It’s simple – and simply gorgeous.

Once is playing at the Phoenix Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.oncemusical.co.uk.