Tag Archives: Lauren Samuels

Water Babies at Curve Leicester – 8th May 2014

14 May

I love seeing new theatre. It is always exciting to see someone take a risk and present a brand new piece of theatre. I understand the risks involved with this, most of which are of a financial nature. Therefor I approach new shows with an open mind and try not to be too critical.

Water Babies is the latest new musical presented at Curve Leicester – a theatre which has staged several high standard new musicals over the past years. The adaption of Charles Kingsley’s fairy tale tells the story of orphaned Tom who has to find out who he is and discover that life is a lot about making the right choices at the right time.

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The show comes along with high-tech video projections, some nice water effects (and some real water towards the end), several power ballads and a (mostly) stellar cast. What it lacks is proper character development and a storyline that consists of more than the repeated reminder that “everyone has a choice”. Thomas Milner lacks the stage presence needed to play the male lead. And while Louise Dearman and Lauren Samuels shine with fantastic vocals, they are let down by their roles which give them no chance to leave a lasting impression. Tom Lister’s Eel – the stereotyped villain – is too much of a panto bad guy and left me unimpressed. The comedy trio (Tom Davey’s swordfish, Samuel Holmes’ seahorse and Andy Gray’s lobster) made me chuckle but I did feel I was watching a stand up comedy act thrown into a musical. The ensemble does a great job with the material they have been given.

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My first thoughts after leaving the theatre were “form over content” and “too many ballads” and those impressions still last on. To me it seems colourful sets, lots of dance scenes (which sometimes seemed out of places and randomly thrown in), a ton of video projections  and fancy costumes are used to distract from the fact that the actual storyline and its characters are rather bland and underdeveloped.

Having said all this, I wasn’t left feeling completely disappointed and I definitely didn’t waste an evening either. Yes, this show has a lot of flaws and it needs a major rework if it wants to see the light again at another theatre. But there is potential and some scenes and songs really gave me that “Wow” feeling you experience when you realise you are watching something magical on stage. I just wish that feeling had lasted throughout the whole performance.

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Water Babies is on at Curve Leicester until 17th May. For tickets and more info visit http://www.curveonline.co.uk.

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We will rock you at Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam – 11th April 2013

16 Apr

We will rock you is without a doubt one of the (if not the) most successful Jukebox musicals of all time. The show has been running at the Dominion Theatre in London since 2002 and is now touring European arenas to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Based on the music of Queen this show is all about great rock songs and big voices. Ben Elton’s script has some funny moments, however the story is rather random and definitely not the focus main of the show. Personally I’ve always looked at We will rock you as a rock concert with a bit of a story in between. And I’m not saying that in a negative way. I used to watch this show a lot a couple of years ago and I have fond memories of my visits to the Dominion Theatre.

This tour production is scaled down slightly which is understandable. It would be impossible to tour the Dominion. There’s no trapdoor in the middle of the stage and no rotating stage lift. The lack of the latter means Killerqueen and Khashoggi do a lot of walking around on stage during “A kind of magic” which I had to get used to first – I didn’t really miss anything set-wise though.
There were a few sound issues on the night and sometimes the music drowned out parts of the singing which was a shame. However, it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the show.

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The anniversary tour is led by MiG Ayesa as Galileo. Having seen MiG play the part almost 10 years ago in London I have really been looking forward to catching his performance one more time. He is not the vocally strongest Galileo out of all performers I’ve seen in the part but his voice suits the songs really well and he definitely makes the part his own. His Galileo is playful and likeable. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t actually fit into the role age-wise anymore. MiG is just a wonderful Galileo with so much enthusiasm for his role and the show. It’s simply a joy to watch.

Lauren Samuels plays Scaramouche and once again proves why she received such rave reviews for her portrayal of the part at the Dominion Theatre. Her Scaramouche is funny without losing her vulnerable side and she has a beautiful and strong voice. I especially loved to hear her “Who wants to live forever” (with MiG) – such a tender moment in an otherwise rather loud and in your face kind of show.

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Sean Kingsley’s Khashoggi doesn’t stand out acting wise for me. However, I completely love his take on “Seven Seas of Rhye”. He has quite an edgy rock voice and some of the notes he hits are just insane.

My personal highlight of the show has to be Jenna Lee-James’ Killerqueen. I have been lucky enough to catch Jenna as Meat Loaf and Scaramouche when she played the parts at the Dominion Theatre a few years ago. She remains my all time favourite Scaramouche and I’m thrilled I now got the chance to see her take on Killerqueen. Jenna has a stunning voice which fits the part perfectly. Her “Another one bites the dust” is nothing but amazing and it is great to see her play the villain for a change. Until now Mazz Murray has been my favourite Killerqueen by far (and everyone who has seen her will probably agree that she was absolutely perfect in the part). But I can safely say that Jenna has taken her place right next to Mazz in my all time favourites.

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I quite like Lucie Jones’ Meat Loaf but I admit she doesn’t blow me away. She’s a good singer but I think her voice lacks a bit of power especially during “I want it all”. Next to Lauren Samuels she doesn’t quite manage to stand out.

Rolan Bell plays Britney Spears on this tour and I admit I just can’t warm to his portrayal of the part. It’s probably not even his fault as my main issues are down to the way the part is written these days. Britney used to have a bit of dignity but now the role is a walking joke. I really dislike the mocking way in which the Welsh accent is used. And the whole karate thing is just too much in my opinion.

Rob Castell’s Pop is highly entertaining. I’ve never been a fan of the part itself so the fact that I actually enjoyed Rob’s performance speaks for itself. His Gollum impression is the best I have seen and I loved his “These are the days of our lives”.

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All in all this tour is a fun night out – it has great songs, some stunning voices and is simply a great celebration of Queen. If you like the music you will enjoy the show. If you are expecting thoughtful theatre this one is not for you.

I had a brilliant time watching the show again and seeing Jenna and MiG brought back wonderful memories of my days at the Dominion Theatre. If you get the chance please go and check out this tour. It’s a great chance to see We will rock you in the original English version. And although the script has been changed quite a lot since the show’s opening 10 years ago (and not for the better if you ask me) this show still rocks!

For more info on the tour visit http://www.wewillrockyou.co.uk/tour/.

You can check out my interview with Jenna Lee-James here.

 

Vampirette at the Manchester Opera House – May 12 2012 (matinee)

14 May

Vampirette – the name alone had me slightly worried. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I took my place inside the auditorium of the Manchester Opera House but I wasn’t expecting much to be honest.

This show tells the story of Vampi, a vampire girl who wants nothing more than to be a normal teenager – fashion, boys, the usual stuff. She meets Andrew, a friend of her brother Rudi, the two fall in love but of course he doesn’t know she’s a vampire. And than there’s the fact that Andrew’s last name is van Helsing and one of his ancestors has killed a member of Vampi’s family (yes, Dracula – you guessed it). To make things even worse the sleazy journalist Stanley Pea is on a mission to unveil the secret surrounding Vampi’s family.
It does sound like a bad piece of fanfiction, doesn’t it? And it would be just that if the show took itself seriously. However, Vampirette is a complete exaggeration of all those well-known vampire stories old and new. It’s a parody that takes the mickey out of every vampire cliché.

The cast is definitely the most outstanding part of this whole show. Jay Worthy as Dr. Acula and Caroline Deverill as Countess Zanguina do an all around great job. I have to mention their accents which are absolutely spot on throughout the show. Lauren Samuels plays Vampi(rette) and while her accent slipped a few times I enjoyed her performance. However the secret star of the show has to be Stuart Matthew Price as Andrew van Helsing who doesn’t just have an amazing voice, he also manages to make the audience laugh without turning his character into a complete fool. Adam C Booth plays Vampi’s brother Rudi – the stereotype of a playboy. While I loved his portrayal of the character (his facial expressions were hilarious!) I wasn’t totally convinced by his singing. His voice seemed a little weak especially compared to Stuart Matthew Price’s outstanding vocals. I wish Stanley Pea would get to sing a proper solo song – Norman Bowman has such a great voice and only gets to show it during the finale. I loved seeing him in this show though – he acts, he sings, he dances = triple treat.

The ensemble seemed a bit out of sync in parts but then one of the ensemble dancer had gone off with an injury the night before and without swings this ment last-minute changes with little to no chance to rehearse properly.
I really enjoyed Matthew Cole’s choreography which was passionate and vibrant. It’s great to see him do so well although I hope he won’t abandon his performing career completely.

Music wise this show definitely is a jukebox musical. From “Come fly with me” to “If you could read my mind” and “Moonlight shadow” – there wasn’t one song I didn’t recognise. I have to mention “Total eclipse of the heart” because the way they used and arranged that song was hilarious and rather brilliant. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the show but that scene was definitely the highlight of the show for me.

Maybe some of you have seen Rock of Ages – in case you have and you enjoyed it I’m pretty sure you will like Vampirette. If you love your Sondheim and nothing else – don’t bother with this show.
Vampirette is a funny feel-good musical that doesn’t want to deliver a complicated message. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not and that’s what makes it a good show. It’s not a revolution in musical theatre and I’m pretty sure it’s not ready for the West End (yet). But it’s enjoyable and deserves a place in the theatre landscape.

For more info on the show and to book tickets go to http://www.vampirettethemusical.com/. But be quick, the show finishes on May 19th!