Tag Archives: Matt Rawle

Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre – 18th October 2012

26 Oct

It has been a while since I’ve seen a production of Cabaret and I admit I have never been a particular fan of this show. I enjoy it with a good cast, I like some of the songs but I don’t find the story particularly gripping in itself. Plus a whole song about a pineapple always seemed a bit too much for me.

However, the prospect of seeing Matt Rawle on stage is usually enough to make me attend a show. For those of you who don’t know this musical: It’s set in Berlin just before World War 2 and gives an insight into the rather decadent German Cabaret scene at that time and its downturn once the NSDAP comes into power. Beside this we learn of the everyday problems of the people living in Nazi Germany and the vast contrast between normal life during the day and the “dream world” of Cabaret Clubs like the Kit Kat Club at night.

This production went on a short UK tour prior to its West End run. Therefore the set is quite simply and clearly designed for a touring production. But that doesn’t take anything away from the show itself. Cabaret has a strong theme and a good storyline and doesn’t need huge sets to work.

Will Young steps into the shoes of the Emcee, a part that is hilariously over the top on the outside and an extreme contrast to the serious undertone of the show. I admit I didn’t expect Will Young to be outstanding and I wasn’t completely convinced by his portrayal throughout act one. However, in act two he managed to amaze me with the range of emotion his Emcee displayed. Plus he has a fantastic voice which suits the songs perfectly.

Matt Rawle, my main reason for watching the show, makes a wonderful Cliff Bradshaw. He has got the most amazing stage presence and engages the audience completely whenever he is on stage. Actually I’m sure he would make a perfect Emcee as well!

Michelle Ryan plays Sally Bowles, the female lead of the show. Sadly she is the weak link in this production. Personally I found her acting rather bland and I wasn’t blown away by her voice (which is nice but nothing special in my eyes and simply not strong enough for some of the songs in the show). There is no really connection between her and Matt on stage. To me it looked as if she was just acting beside him and not with him.

A special mention goes to the delightful Harriet Thorpe who gives a stellar performance as Fräulein Kost. I liked Sian Phillips as Fräulein Schneider although I wasn’t convinced by her singing which was more melodic talking than actual singing. The rest of the cast do a great job. I loved seeing John Brannoch on stage again.

The German language in the show is quite good I have to say. Obviously you can tell that the people on stage are non-native speakers but considering how ridiculously hard German is their pronounciation is fantastic.

One thing that really bugged me was the sound, in particular Michelle Ryan’s mic. I have no idea if it was done intentionally but whenever she was singing her mic seemed to be turned up to full volume. As a result you could hear every little breath she took – and she was breathing a lot! Personally I found that rather distracting.

All in all this is a good show and definitely worth seeing especially if you want to watch Will Young being absolutely awesome in a difficult part. Be prepared for nakedness and sexual references on stage though.

Cabaret is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 19th January 2013. To book tickets go to http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/cabaret-tickets

Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory – January 21st 2012 (matinee)

23 Jan

After watching Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory in December I knew immediately that this wasn’t going to be my only time seeing the show. I’ve always liked the Chocolate Factory. It’s such a lovely little venue and so far their productions have never disappointed me. And Pippin turned out to be no difference.

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I admit I was a bit disappointed when I entered the bar before the show and was greeted with an understudy notice informing me that the part of Leading Player would be played by Bob Harms at this performance. Matt Rawle was one of my highlights of the show when I saw it back in December after all and I remembered from that Gypsy Kings best of show (also known as Zorro – the musical) that he often is the most vital part of any production he is in.

But as fantastic as his performance in Pippin is I can honestly say I didn’t miss him one bit at this matinee. The moment Bob Harms stepped on stage he had me glued to my seat. His Leading Player was charismatic, gripping and just plain cool. I would never have guessed it was his very first time in the role. So thumbs up for Bob! If you get the chance to catch him as Leading Player you can consider yourself lucky.

 

Harry Hepple gave another brilliant performance as Pippin. Such a lovely voice and he portrays Pippin’s search for meaning in the most perfect way. I feel for his Pippin. I enjoy coming along on his journey from level to level and I want him to succeed in becoming an outstanding person.

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Stuart Neal always manages to catch my eye and I would love to see his take on Pippin. Having said that I’m sure I’d miss seeing him as Theo on that occasion.

David Page is just perfect as Pippin’s rather shallow brother Lewis. That does sound a bit wrong so I should clarify that David is obviously not only a great dancer but also a fantastic actor. Speaking to him after the performance made it very clear that he is in no way vain or self absorbed but totally lovely and down to earth.

Holly James once again had me in awe – she is so stunningly beautiful and one of the most expressive dancers around. I could watch her dancing all day without getting bored.

France Ruffelle still didn’t impress me but as I’ve stated before it’ probably just one of those cases of “We don’t click”. She’s got a good voice and I know lots of people enjoy seeing her on stage and love her performance in Pippin.

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I can see why Pippin isn’t one of the shows that are put on regularly. The show is not typical mainstream and I can imagine it wouldn’t necessarily appeal to someone who is not really into theatre but just goes to see a show once in a while.

But still, the show shouldn’t be put back in the closet for ages once the run at the Chocolate Factory is over. Pippin is a well written piece of theatre with a fantastic score and (something not all shows have these days) a message. It’s a story about finding yourself, a story about becoming someone extraordinary without being corrupted.

 

So please do yourself a favour and go see this fantastic production of a show that deserves to be noticed amongst the common main stream shows of today.

 

Pippin is on at the Menier Chocolate Factory until February 25.

http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com

Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory – December 17 2011

22 Dec

Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory is yet another example that fringe theatre often produces the most extraordinary shows. After a friend and I went to see Parade at the Southwark Playhouse we decided that we needed to see more fringe theatre. So, our next trip to London in mind we booked tickets for Pippin. Personally I had no idea what the show was about and the cast hadn’t even been announced at the time. All I knew was that the Menier Chocolate Factory so far had never disappointed me with its productions – and this was a chance to see something new which I’m always up for.

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So who or what is Pippin?
Pippin is a boy on a search for meaning and fulfillment. I know this is not a proper synopsis but seriously, I don’t think I should go into too much detail. After all I will urge all of you to go and see the show at the end of this blog post. 😉

What I can say is that I totally loved the way the story is transported into the world of cyberspace in this production of the show. The whole concept of dividing the plot between real life and a mix of computer games, Twitter and the like all wrapped up in Fosse style dancing and a quite disturbing ending is pure genius. I admit it did take a bit of getting used to especially as I entered the auditorium not knowing what to expect at all. I loved how you basically walk into the story (I do pity Harry Hepple though – he doesn’t even get a proper interval break… you’ll see what I mean when you watch the show).

It’s amazing how such a tiny venue like the Chocolate Factory manages to stage productions like this. The set was quite amazing and the space looked so much larger than the other times I’d been there.

As mentioned before the cast hadn’t been announced when my friend and I booked the tickets for the show. And I can safely say: If I didn’t had tickets already I would have booked some straight after the first glance on the complete cast list!

First of all there is Matt Rawle as the Leading Player. Matt is one of those performers that will catch my eye no matter what part he is playing. The man oozes charisma and he has the ability to include the audience in his performance throughout the whole show. It always feels like he is performing for you only. The part of the Leading Player gives Matt the chance to actually talk to the audience and he does so with such a natural charm that it’s hard to look anywhere else whenever he is on stage.

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I managed to tear my eyes away from Matt now and then (it wasn’t easy, I can honestly say that!) and this was thanks to everyone else in the cast. It was amazing to see so much talent on one stage in such an intimate performing space.

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Harry Hepple (Pippin) is definitely one to watch out for in the future. He’s got such a fantastic voice and is a completely natural actor.

I loved seeing David Page on stage again after such a long time. I still remember him playing the lead in the UK tour of Kiss me Kate years ago (a show I only went to see because of a friend in the cast in the first place – and I’m so glad I did because I totally loved the production). What an amazing dancer and absolutely perfect as Pippin’s brother Lewis (and this shows what a great actor he is because I’m absolutely positive he is nowhere near as shallow and self absorbed as the character he plays ;-).

Stuart Neal will always have the Lord of the Rings bonus – meaning: Everyone who has been in Lord of the Rings – the musical has bonus points in my judgment already. But I am happy to report Stuart doesn’t need that bonus. I loved seeing him as Theo (yes, there were a few Hobbit / Pippin like facial expressions but those totally fit the part) and I had no idea he was such a great dancer as well.

I admit I wasn’t too fond of Frances Ruffelle as Fastrada but that is probably just down to the fact that she is just one of the performers I can never warm to. She’s a good actress, had a nice voice and she’s good great comic timing – she’s just not for me.

Ian Kelsey as Charles (it took me ages to figure out where I’d seen him before…. It was Chicago, of course!), Louise Gold as Berthe and Carly Bawden as Catherine all do a fantastic job. I can’t say a bad thing about their performances.

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A special shout out has to go to the absolutely awesome ensemble in this show. Yes, the stage did appear larger than I remembered it to be but still, this is a small fringe venue. To dance in such a small space especially with a whole ensemble can’t be easy. Plus the choreography of this show definitely requires a lot of skill. And the guys and girls in the cast really did the whole piece justice. And I just have to say it here and now: Holly James is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen on stage! Seriously, the girl is stunning (and she’s an amazing singer and dancer as well). I’ve been lucky enough to see her in a few shows already (Hairspray, Hair and Shoes) and she always stood out – in a positive way, of course!

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So, if I haven’t done everything wrong at least some of you will now consider booking a ticket to see Pippin. And this will now be my final plug: Please, please, please do yourself a favour and watch this show! It’s got a fantastic cast, a great score, it’s interesting and a show you might not get the chance to see again anytime soon (in my eyes Pippin is a largely under-appreciated musical). So go see it now!

Pippin is running at the Menier Chocolate Factory until February 25 2012. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com .