Tag Archives: Mark Evans

West End Bares 2012 at Cafe de Paris – 2nd September 2012

6 Sep

West End Bares has quickly become an annual fundraiser event for The Make A Difference Trust. Now in its third year the show brings together some of the West End’s most talented (and hottest) dancers.

Created by Jerry Mitchell – probably best known for being director and choreographer of Legally Blonde: The Musical – the event had its origin on Broadway under the name Broadway Bares. In London Darren Carnall has been in charge of the event as Artistic Director since the first West End Bares in 2010.

With London still sparkling with Olympic spirit this years West End Bares: “Get Set… Strip!” was sporting an Olympic theme treating the audience to everything from the Opening Ceremony to Sailing, Synchronised Swimming, Gymnastics, Wrestling, Table Tennis, Boxing and Equestrian right up to the Closing Ceremony. The whole evening was a colourful  mix of amazing choreography,  fabulous costumes and make-up, music that had the audience dancing and, as the title of the event suggests, a lot of naked flesh.

It’s hard to pick a favourite number out of all the brilliant pieces of song and dance. Personally I was especially impressed by The Opening Ceremony which started in style with torchbearer Oliver Thornton. Special mention here for the wonderful Jason Winter who made a rather nice to look at “golden boy” and for Paul Ayres and Jenny Fitzpatrick who showed off their great voices. Out of the “sports” numbers I loved Wrestling and Table Tennis which were both extremely entertaining. The whole Equestrian numb was stunning to look at. Big tumbs up for the amazing horse costumes by Spike Wilmer.
But then there really was no weak link in any of the numbers. This was entertainment on the highest level through and through! Amongst the performers of the evening were well-known West End names such as Carley Stenson, Zizi Strallen, Twinnie Lee Moore and Jodie Jaobs.  The Closing Number had a song especially written for West End Bares by Barry Anderson and Mark Petty which was performed beautifully by Mark Evans and Louise Dearman.

Some of the presenters of the evening were Robin Cousins, Claire Sweeney, Jon Lee, Ben Richards, Louise Dearman and Oliver Thornton. Sadly Rugby World Cup Champion Ben Cohen couldn’t make it due to unforseen circumstances.

Probably the most popular part of each West End Bares is the so-called Rotation. Basically this gives the audience the chance to get up and close to the performers of their choice by putting MAD money in their pants. Said MAD money is sold throughout the show and, of course, all proceeds go to The Make A Difference Trust. So, you can touch up your favourite performer AND do something for charity – what’s not to love?!

Since we’ve been talking about pants: A West End Bares tradition is the Pants Project which was once again introduced with the Pants Parade. For this project wardrobe departments of several West End shows design a special show-related pair of pants which is auctioned of online in aid of MAD. Amongst the shows taking part this year are Ghost, Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables and Billy Elliot. There are also pants signed by celebrities such as Brian May and Patrick Steward. I suggest you have a look and get bidding on Ebay.

For everyone that doesn’t know The Make A Difference Trust: The theatre industry has come together for over 21 years in form of this charity to help those facing crises and challenges. Please do check out their work here: http://www.madtrust.org.uk/

I was fortunate enough to contribute a small part to West End Bares by helping out as a volunteer. This was my first experience of volunteering for MAD and I honestly had no idea what to expect. But all my worries vanished as soon as I arrived at Cafe de Paris just before 7pm. Everyone was beyond friendly and I got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful people. In case you were there on the day you may have seen me handing out pre-paid tickets and sporting a bright red MAD t-shirt.
With this extra look behind the scenes and having the chance to see some of the preparations for the show by both performers and the people working off stage I can honestly say that everyone involved in West End Bares has given his and her all to make this evening a success. The people at MAD, the performers, the volunteers, the backstage crew, the costume people etc – everyone has worked so hard for this and I truly felt like a part of something wonderful and important. I can’t thank MAD enough for giving me this opportunity. Hopefully I will get to volunteer at more great MAD fundraisers. And definitely count me in for West End Bares 2013!

Here’s a little photo gallery of the event. Once again, please don’t use these pictures anywhere else without asking.
Since I have been asked which performer was in which number I’ve included an overview of the different numbers of the evening all with names of dancers, choreographers etc.

Ghost the musical at the Piccadilly Theatre – July 12th 2012 (matinee)

20 Jul

With Ghost closing in the West End in October I thought I should finally go and see the two current leads on stage together. The first time I watched the show after Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman had left Sam Edwards was on as Sam and I very much enjoyed his performance but didn’t think him and Siobhan Dillon had the best on stage chemistry. I put that down to him being the understudy and not getting the chance to perform with Siobhan a lot and it didn’t bother me that much.

So this time I managed to see a full cast (not sure about swings in the ensemble I admit as I’m not that familiar with the cast – I do know Louise Lawson and Darren Carnall were not on though).
First of all I’d like to say that I think Ghost is a great new musical. Yes, the score isn’t perfect and yes, the show doesn’t really add anything to the story of the film. However, personally I like the way this popular movie has been adapted for the stage. I think the choreography is interesting and I enjoy the big ballads in the show such as “With you”. Plus the effects are without a doubt rather stunning to look at even though I have figured them all out by now.
I adored the original leads Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman. They were stunning together (and still are in the Broadway production) plus Caissie has a voice to die for. So I certainly was slightly biased but I did my best to give the new leads a fair chance to “WOW” me.

Sadly that didn’t happen. Siobhan Dillon has a lovely voice even though her singing doesn’t amaze me the way Caissie’s does. However, her Molly is simply too tough for my liking. I’m not touched by her performance because for me she is radiating a “I’m a strong woman” aura rather than being a completely heartbroken “girl” who has lost the love of her life and doesn’t know how to move on. To be fair I do think she has improved a lot since the first time I saw her. Her acting in the final scene is lovely and yes, I did tear up when Molly said goodbye to Sam.
Mark Evans is certainly nice to look at and he has a wonderful and clear voice. But sadly I’m left cold by his portrayal of Sam. I find his acting rather wooden and his facial expressions are slightly over the top from time to time. He does ok in the funny scenes and his timing is good but he doesn’t manage to take me along on Sam’s emotional journey. 
But what bugs me the most is that I can’t believe in Mark and Siobhan as (on stage) lovers. They are lacking chemistry and just seem to act next to instead of with each other. Since Sam and Molly’s strong bond is one of the key themes of Ghost this lack of chemistry has a big impact. While perfect on the technical side the show is missing heart and soul.

Sharon D Clarke steals the show as Oda Mae Brown. Her portrayal is spot on and you can’t go wrong with such a voice. “I’m outta here” is a real show stopper and remains one of the highlights of the show for me.

Andrew Langtree has developed so much since the first time I saw him as Carl in 2011. I remember thinking that the whole character was simply too “panto” and one-dimensional. Carl is still a cliché bad guy but Andrew manages to deliver a performance that is a joy to watch. He doesn’t ridicule his character but he also doesn’t take Carl seriously beyond measure which is the perfect mix.

The ensemble does a great job even though I think they are not as slick as the original cast. But then those guys and girls went through the very first rehearsal progress for a brand new show together. That has to result in a strong bond that is visible on stage. And in the end this is just a tiny criticism. Special mention for Lisa Davina Philip who I found hilarious as Clara (and what a voice!!). As always nice to see Paul Ayres on stage, I certainly do have a soft spot for former Jersey Boys.

I still don’t see the point of “Ball of wax”. It’s painfully out-of-place and destroys the atmosphere right after Sam’s death. On the other hand I love the act one finale. “Suspend my disbelief” / “I had a life” is such a strong musical number and always leaves me with goosebumps on my arms.

Ghost remains a good show and if you haven’t seen it yet I recommend you go while it’s still around in the West End. For me the “problem” with the show lies with the new leads who simply don’t reach the pure awesomeness of Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman (just my opinion, of course). So at this point I think I’ll rather keep my memories of the “perfect Molly/Sam duo” and let this recent visit be my last. However, I might change my mind in case I get a chance to see Sam Edwards again.

Ghost is on at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 6th 2012. For more info and to book tickets go to: http://www.ghostthemusical.com/