Tag Archives: Nigel Harman

I can’t sing at the London Palladium

27 Mar

I admit I wasn’t the least bit excited the first time I heard there was going to be a musical based on the popular casting show The X Factor. The thing is, casting shows really don’t interest me. I have never watched any of them and I don’t plan to give them any attention in the future. That and the fact I am not British probably doesn’t make me the target audience for I can’t sing which has just opened at the London Palladium. However, the cast alone meant I simply had to go and see it.

I can’t sing tells the story of Chenice, a poor girl living in a caravan beneath a motorway who is persuaded by plumber max to audition for The X Factor. She gets in, her and Max both become finalists and it seems Chenice’s dream is coming true.

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There is no denying that the show has its flaws. The stereotyped jokes get a bit too much with time and mocking every casting show cliché imaginable alone doesn’t make a show funny or good. The story of I can’t sing is paper-thin and I won’t even start with the ending which left me completely stunned (in a “What the…?!” kind of way). Plus I found the Hunchback and his “back story” (get the joke??) nothing but embarrassing even though I do get the idea behind it.
But despite that I laughed a lot and I left the theatre with a smile on my face.

The sets are impressive and well designed, the show has a great original score and the costumes range from lovely to completely outrageous – in a good way. It is obvious that a lot of money had been spent on the outer appearance of I can’t sing. This show definitely puts form over content. And that’s OK because I can’t sing doesn’t pretend to be anything but a silly night out. It doesn’t want to be Shakespeare. It simply wants the audience to sit down and laugh at funny characters and silly jokes and enjoy catchy songs. And for me it succeeds in doing so with few exceptions.

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Simon Lipkin is wonderfully witty as Barlow (the dog) and Simon Bailey’s Liam O’Deary is quite simply hilarious. Then there is Cynthia Erivo who shines as Chenice and once again proves that she is one of the rising stars in London’s West End. Nigel Harman’s comic timing as Simon is spot on – I just wish his appearances were a little more balanced (two minor scenes in act one, almost never off stage in act 2). And despite having no idea who they were based on (this happens when you are a non X Factor watching German) I enjoyed Victoria Elliott’s Jordy and Ashley Knight’s Louis. Alan Morrissey does a great job as plumber / singer / songwriter Max and I have to give a special mention to Joseph Prouse whose Undertaker really made me chuckle.

I can’t sing is definitely a Marmite show. It is full of very silly jokes, stereotypes and some quite offensive clichés and it doesn’t really teach us anything beside the fact that casting shows are a platform for vanity and are lead by internal politics. So don’t watch this show expecting a clever and well-developed story and complex characters or you will most likely be disappointed. I can’t sing offers light entertainment and the opportunity to just stop thinking for 2 hours. And in our busy and often rather unfunny world maybe that is just what we need.

For more info go to http://www.icantsingthemusical.com, follow @icantsingUK on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page.

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I can’t sing – Social Media Call – 21st March 2014

24 Mar

Currently still in previews the highly anticipated X Factor musical I can’t sing invited bloggers and press photographers to a special Media Call at the London Palladium on 21st March 2014.

My review of the show is coming soon. Here’s a first glimpse of the cast in action and a few snaps of the arranged cast Q&A bloggers attended after the press photo call. I have to say Barlow really is one handsome fella!

More photos can be found on my Facebook Photo Page. Check them out please (page likes always welcome).

For more info and the latest news about I can’t sing please visit the show’s website, follow @icantsingUK on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page.

More photos…

Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/8ZSdAL78ffg>

Shrek – The Musical, all good things are three?

8 Sep

Last week marked my return to a show I had last seen in its previews back in May: Shrek – The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Considering I’m known for watching shows again and again this gives an impression of my views on this particular piece of theatre. To put it simple: I didn’t really enjoy it back then.

I guess I don’t have to go into details when it comes to the storyline. Or are there still people out there who haven’t seen the movie? Well, to be honest – I haven’t. But I tried, I honestly did (never made it past the first 20 minutes though). So, very basic storyline: Fairlytale creatures are forced into Shrek’s swamp (that’s where Ogres live) by order of Lord Farquaard. Shrek wants to get rid of them and so goes on a journey to ask Lord Farquaard to allow the fairytale creatures to leave the swamp. On the way he meets Donkey. Farquaard sends Shrek out to rescure the fair Princess Fiona from the dragon. Shrek and Donkey succeed in their task. Shrek falls in love with Fiona who is under a terrible curse which makes her turn into an Ogre at night. Only a kiss from her true love will return her to her “love’s true form”. Lord Farquaard intends to marry Fiona but of course there’s the big happy ending and so on, and so on.

Now imagine all of this on a stage with songs and dance. It’s a pretty colourful experience and some of the songs are catchy and stay in your head (most of all the song used in the finale “I’m a believer” which is, as some may know, a cover – the original was composed by Neil Diamond and recorded by the Monkees back in the 60ties).

My main problem with this shows was the casting and by this I mean the casting of the leads. First of all there’s Amanda Holden (Fiona) who is semi-well known for appearing on several UK tv shows. While her name might help to attract an audience I think she’s just not right for the part. Her singing is weak and in my opinion she lacks stage presence and has zero chemistry with her fellow cast members. Before anyone jumps on me: I’m sure she’s a nice person and she is reasonably talented but for me she just doesn’t have what it takes to play a lead part in a West End show (and I’ve seen her in Thoroughly Modern Millie in which I found her equally bland).
Next up Nigel Lindsay (Shrek) who is by all means an actor but no singer and who (to me) always looks slightly uncomfortable in his mask and costume.
And there’s Richard Blackwood (Donkey) who tries his best to impersonate Eddie Murphy on stage… and fails. His Donkey is simply not funny and his singing is not even close to average (some people just can’t sing, nothing wrong with that but don’t try and make them on a theatre stage!).
Only the fantastic Nigel Harman (Lord Farquaard) and the brilliant Landi Osinowo (Dragon) really managed to entertain me. Nigel Harman is just brilliantly funny (I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t seen the show) and Landi Oshinowo… well, what a voice!!
And I won’t forget the absolutely stunning ensemble! Special mention to Amy Beadel as Teen Fiona who makes her West End debut in this show and the lovely Ashley Hale who always manages to catch my eye in every show I’ve seen her in so far. Watching all those talented people give their all on stage was one of the few delightful moments during my preview visits.

VisitS you ask? Yes, I went to see the show twice simply because I wanted to catch a full cast on my first visit and return on a date where Amanda Holden was scheduled to be off. Need I say that her understudy, the fantastic Alice Fearn, stole the show on my second visit? Great vocals, great acting – I finally realised that this could be a proper and enjoyable show if only they had cast the right people in the lead roles.

After all that talk about past visits now on to visit number 3 which took place on September 3rd 2011 (matinee). This time the reason was simple: Dean Chisnall.

Dean

I have been following his career since I saw him play the lead role in Never Forget back in 2008 (the Take That musical – some might not even recall there was such a thing but I tell you it was a fun show full of energy). Call me biased but the guy is wasted in the ensemble so the chance to see his take on the big green Ogre was too tempting to resist.
And what can I say? It was like watching a new show!! I found myself taping my foot to the music and I even giggled briefly during the infamous “fart song” (don’t ask!). And I never imagined I’d actually start tearing up during “When words fail”. I do cry at everything on tv but it takes quite something to make my eyes water in a theatre. Dean’s Shrek was funny and heart warming and he made me care for this “ugly Orgre”. And his voice – why oh why is that man stuck in the ensemble so often? Give the guy a proper lead part I say!!
After having seen Nigel play Shrek two times I was under the impression that it was simply not possible to show proper emotions whilst wearing this monster of a mask and costume. Well, Dean proved me wrong – Shrek was funny, Shrek was sad, Shrek was angry, Shrek was disappointed. Shrek’s feelings were visible and that made such a huge difference to me.

Richard Blackwood still didn’t quite convince me but since Alice Fearn was on as Fiona again I honestly couldn’t care less. I was in understudy heaven one could say. Her and Dean can easily be called the Shrek-Dreamteam. Amazing stage chemistry!

Shrek will never be one of my favourite shows, I can safely say that. But it is not as terrible as I first thought it was. It’s certainly not “Sondheim” but then it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a fun and entertaining family show. And with the right cast that is exactly what it is. Having said that, a “fart song” is still questionable if you ask me.

So everyone, if you do get the chance please support the great understudies in this show and go see Dean as Shrek and Alice as Fiona. It’s worth it!

For more information visit www.shrekthemusical.co.uk