Tag Archives: Ian McIntosh

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – Aldwych Theatre – 19th September 2015

25 Sep

Beautiful – the Carole King musical sounded like a show right up my street the first time I heard about it. It made me go “Female Jersey Boys!” which – as those who know me will be aware of – is praise coming from me.

The Show has been running in London for a while but I only just managed to check it out. And what can I say? I left slightly disappointed. This has nothing to do with the cast – something I want to point out straight away.

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Joanna Woodward who was on for Carole King the day I watched the show is quite simply wonderful. She has a marvelous voice and really manages to capture both the innocence of young Carole as well as the development from teenage girl to wife, mother and successful artist.

Alan Morrissey is a believable Gerry Goffin (Carole’s partner both personally and professionally). However, the male star of the show is Ian McIntosh (Barry Mann) who steals the show in most of his scenes. I just wish he had more to sing – his voice is one of the best in the West End and it seems a waste to only give him such small bits of solo singing.

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Then there is Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil who is feisty, funny, likeable and just all around fantastic. She and Ian McIntosh work particularly well together – a pure joy to watch.

The rest of the supporting cast and ensemble do well with the material they’ve been given.

The songs are well-known and definitely crowd pleasers. I enjoyed hearing them sung live by such a talented cast. Personally I would have preferred less songs in general but those songs in a full version instead of hearing what felt like a million song snippets though.

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So, we have a great cast and great songs. Then why did I not enjoy the show as much as I hoped I would? The answer is: The story. While I find Jersey Boys gripping and well done in terms of narrative and plot development I ended up slightly bored watching Beautiful. The story is predictable and the same things seem to happen over and over again. Plus I simply could not connect with any of the characters.

Spoiler warning!

Basically the show seems to be about Carole King writing a song whenever something happens in her life. She falls in love – she writes a song. She gets married – she writes a song. She has a baby – she writes a song. Her husband cheats on her – she writes a song. It just goes on and on without any proper dramatic tension in my opinion. Plus everything happens so fast there is no time to really get to know the characters. On top of that the two main characters just seem to make choices in their life that makes it hard for me to feel for them. Gerry Goffin might have his problems but we don’t learn much about them apart from him freaking out with no warning. And he is openly cheating on his wife and still expects sympathy. Then there is Carole King who lets her husband cheat on her not once but twice. If I knew more about his psychological problems and their general situation I might be able to understand Carole’s motives but since I don’t she just seems unreasonable to me. Or maybe I just have no sympathy for women who let their husband cheat on them (knowingly, I might add – he asked permission the first time!) and then make a big fuss when it happens again later on.

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I don’t mind light entertainment and I certainly don’t mind jukebox musicals. But Beautiful is telling a life story and I wish it would do the characters more justice by giving them a well put together narrative and good character development.

However, I do understand why Beautiful appeals to people. If you take it as a night out listening to Carole King’s greatest hits it certainly is a nice show. And it is perfectly fine to be happy with that. For me what Beautiful has to offer just isn’t enough.

As always I do urge you to go and make up your own mind – if only to see so much talent on one stage. Beautiful is playing at the Aldwych Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to: http://beautifulmusical.co.uk/

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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

The Commitments at The Palace Theatre – 10th November 2013

14 Nov

Those who know me or simply follow me on Twitter will know I have a bit of a soft spot for a certain Irish musical at the moment. So I thought it was about time I checked out “that other” Irish show that opened down the road just a few weeks ago.

The Commitments is based on the book by Roddy Doyle and was turned into a movie back in 1991. It tells the story of a group of teenagers in 1980s Dublin. They are trying to form a band but it is only when the talented but difficult Deco comes on board that they end up on the road of success.
This could be a show with depth, telling the story of working class kids in Ireland who are trying to escape their dull everyday life by making music. It is however more of a concert with some bits of story thrown in. The characters are too one-dimensional to make me actually care for them. What makes this show enjoyable is the great music performed by a musically talented cast.

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Ian McIntosh is the understudy for Deco (usually played by Killian Donnelly) and gives a gripping and hugely enjoyable performance. He sings brilliantly and hits even the toughest notes with ease. I have heard rave reviews of Killian but I can assure you that Ian McIntosh’s Deco is truly wonderful and a pure joy to watch and listen to.

I’m not convinced by Denis Grindel as Jimmy who seems to be trying too hard. He just doesn’t come across as natural to me. His vocals are fine though and I’m sure he will settle into the role more with time.

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It is great to see Matthew Wycliffe back on a West End stage. After playing Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys he’s now part of The Commitments playing the part of Outspan. Although the part isn’t huge he manages to stand out amongst his fellow cast members – and not just because of some impressive ginger hair! I just wish he got the chance to show off his wonderful voice.

My biggest issues lie with Ben Fox or better: With the character he is playing (Joey). I can’t help but be irritated by him calling everyone “brother”. The character just has a patronising quality about him that I can’t warm to.

Joe Woolmer has most likely been directed to play Mickah the way he does – lets just say I prefer characters to be a bit less “in your face funny”. The audience seems to like this kind of performance though so it might be just me being picky.

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I enjoyed Mark Dugdake’s performance as Derek and thought Brian Gilligan was wonderfully funny as Billy. Special mention for Clodagh Long who did really well as Imelda.

The Commitments is full of great music. If you like to listen to songs like “I heard it through the grapevine”, “Papa was a rolling stone” and “What becomes of the broken hearted” performed live and sung with real passion I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this show. It has some good humour (mixed with quite a lot of swearing) and some enjoyable – albeit not very deep – characters (especially Deco who is walking the line between confused and manic). If the story is what makes a show for you this one might not be for you.

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The Commitments want to bring soul to the people. And in terms of music they really do. I just wish they had a strong plot and well-developed characters to go along with all those great tunes.

The Commitments is playing at The Palace Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go here.