Tag Archives: Gina Beck

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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Little Women in concert – Playhouse Theatre – June 24th 2012

29 Jun

On Sunday the 24th of June I attended a one-off concert performance of Steven Luke Walker’s adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. I knew the story of the March sisters through movie adaptions – I admit I’ve never gotten round to reading the actual novel, it’s on my to do list though!
However I had never come into contact with a musical adaption of the material so for me this was like experiencing a brand new show.

I very much enjoyed Steven Luke Walker’s songs. He has written some beautiful ballads for this musical which really capture the emotions in the story. Personally I would have liked a few more uptempo songs because as much as I loved the ballads I ended up thinking “There are SO many of them”. This is just a minor criticism though because all in all the score is simply beautiful.

Stand outs in the cast for me were the absolutely wonderful Gina Beck as Meg, Nikki Davis-Jones as Jo and Lisa-Anne Wood as Amy. I was especially surprised by Lisa-Anne who I had only seen as Cosette in Les Miserables so far. I admit I didn’t expect her to deliver the humor of her character so well. Lisa-Anne convinced me the moment she started singing. Her portrayal was spot on and even though this was just a concert performance she managed to bring her character to life.
I remember seeing Nikki as Chloe in the Take That musical Never Forget years ago. It was wonderful to see how far she has come since then. Currently stand by for Elphaba in Wicked she seemed to be an audience favourite (at least judging from the cheers she got whenever she was on stage). I really enjoyed her performance. A personal favourite has to be “The Critique”, a duet with Norman Bowman (Professor Bhaer).
Gina Beck brought heart and soul to her character and her voice suited the songs perfectly. The same goes for Sarah Lark who was absolutely wonderful as Beth. I’m pretty sure she would have me in tears in a full production of this show.
The rest of the cast did a fantastic job. Special mention for Norman Bowman, the fabulous German Scott – I still want to know what that first German sentence was supposed to mean though! I also loved seeing Daniel Boys on stage again. He has such a positive stage presence. Can we please get him back on stage in the West End sometime soon?

Sadly Samantha Barks wasn’t able to be there in the end. Maeve Byrne (supported by the fabulous GSA Choir) stepped in for her and sang “Once more” at the very end of the concert. And what treat that was. Make sure to watch out for her in the future!

The evening was hosted by Mark Shenton who lead the audience through the evening. Personally I think for someone who wasn’t familiar with Little Women it would have been a bit difficult to follow the story. But then this was advertised as a concert production so a bit of preparation by reading at least a synopsis of the story was a must anyway.

If I was to sum up the whole evening in one word it would be “delightful”. Hearing a great score sung by such amazingly talented people was a pure pleasure. It has definitely made me wish for a fully staged production of this show. I could imagine it in a theatre like the Trafalgar Studios or maybe one of the smaller West End theatres like the Gielgud Theatre.

Hopefully we will get to see more of Steven Luke Walker’s Little Women in the future. Although the story has been told a hundred times before this is a fresh approach which deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Cast

Gina Beck: Meg
Helena Blackman: Belle Gardner
Norman Bowman: Professor Bhaer
Daniel Boys: Laurie
Nikki Davis-Jones: Jo
Sarah Lark: Beth
Shona Lindsay: Marmee
Jon Robyns: John Brooke
Lisa-Anne Wood: Amy

All proceeds of the evening went towards The Gingerbread Charity. Please check out there work at http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/.