Tag Archives: Simon Adkins

Jersey Boys at the Piccadilly Theatre – 8th August 2015

11 Aug

Some might remember the last time I watched Jersey Boys in the West End. It was 14 months ago and I left the theatre rather disappointed. The show I had been supporting for six years was lacking something and I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. I decided to take a break back then and I stuck to it (apart from one visit to the Broadway production last September).

But on Saturday I found myself taking my seat in the Piccadilly Theatre for the first time since that not so enjoyable performance in May 2014. Normally I don’t review a show again and again but I feel like I have to make it up to the show because it is such a vital part of my theatre going past in the West End and I don’t want my last words about it in this blog to be “It is no fun anymore”.

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So, just like last time Sandy Moffat was on for Frankie Valli. I admit I was worried because I just didn’t like his performance the first time I saw him. But it really needs to be said: Sandy has grown so much over the past months. His Frankie is well-defined and his vocals are good. He looks at ease on stage and handles the big numbers in the show well. He is not the most charismatic or unique Frankie but he fits in perfectly with the rest of the cast and delivers a great performance.

Ben Wheeler’s Tommy De Vito (understudying Jon Boydon) is just as outstanding and wonderful to watch as ever. He has been with the show from the very start and it is a joy to see how much effort he is putting into his performance. As a repeat visitor you will find little nuances that are one hundred percent unique for Ben’s Tommy. As a first time visitor you will see a perfectly balanced portrayal and one hundred percent commitment to the role.

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Edd Post is still in the show playing Bob Gaudio and he does so with a cheeky charm and great vocals. His Bob Gaudio goes from insecure young boy to “Bobby Businessman” in a convincing way – it’s a very slick and professional performance. And despite having been with the show for years Edd’s portrayal feels fresh and full of life.

Gary Watson has joined the cast as Nick Massi in March. I have seen Gary in a few productions over the years (from Saturday Night Fever to A Chorus Line and Fings aint what they used t’be) and he always struck me as a great singer, actor and dancer. In Jersey Boys the acting part is what it is most about and I was curious to see how a rather boyish looking Nick would work in the show. First of all, I am not easily pleased when it comes to Nick. So far only two actors have managed to convince me with their portrayal (Philip Bulcock and Mark Isherwood). Gary’s performance is solid and I can’t fault his portrayal as a whole. I’m not sure I like his intonation though. His voice seemed unnaturally deep and his Nick speaks with a strange slur that doesn’t do anything for me (apart from making me think Nick might have more than just a taste for alcohol). He leaves every single one of his sentence open which means some of Nick’s very on point one liners don’t come across as well as they should. But all in all I think Gary is a good addition to the cast. I have heard people praise his performance which is great – it doesn’t matter I’m not one hundred percent sure about his portrayal if the paying public enjoys seeing his take on the part.

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I’m not going to mention every single member of the current cast but I have to name a few more. Simon Adkins has returned to the show as Bob Crewe. There really are no words for how much I’ve missed him in Jersey Boys. In my eyes Simon is the ultimate Bob Crewe. No other performer has ever come close to his portrayal. In short: I am over the moon to have him back in the show.

Mark Isherwood’s Joey Pesci (understudying Matt Thorpe) is a pure delight to watch. He might not be the perfect fit for Joey but the fact he pulls of such a great performance nevertheless just shows what a great actor he is.

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Last not least: Matthew Hunt’s Gyp de Carlo (understudying Matthew Cutts). At first I thought he might be too young but I was definitely wrong. He oozes authority on that stage and just makes it work. He delivers a very impressive performance and is definitely my favourite new face in Jersey.

The rest of the cast does a good job. The show is in great shape which makes me happy. I will never be a dedicated return visitor again – those days are behind me now. But it’s good to know that I can pay my former second home a visit now and then and be sure I will have fun and leave the theatre with a smile on my face.

Jersey Boys continues at the Piccadilly Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://jerseyboyslondon.com/

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Westend Fest at St. Paul’s Church – 3rd February 2013

7 Feb

Westend Fest is a live event that brings together various West End performers for an evening of music at St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. This time the show was held in aid of CRY Foundation (find out more about their work here: http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/) and in memory of Matt Beadle, wo sadly passed away last year.

There were so many highlights so I will only point out a few. First of all the wonderful Norman Bowman provided one of the show stoppers of the evening with his sing along “Deliliah” and his fantastic “Who’s the man”.

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Then there was MiG Ayesa who treated the audience to three songs: “Hammer to fall” (with Lauren Varnham), “Hallelujah” (on piano, with Paul Ayres) and “Fix You” (with Sabrina Aloueche). I would like to quote Paul Ayres and say “He (MiG) is a legend!”. Watch MiG and Lauren sing “Hammer to fall” here:

 

Matt Wycliffe showed everyone what a huge musical talent he is by not only performing two of his own songs but also playing three instruments in total. I was especially impressed by his piano playing. Here’s a clip of him performing:

Personally I loved hearing Rebecca Trehearn sing “The Hill” from Once because I adore the whole score of this show and cannot wait to finally see it on stage next month. Simon Adkins doesn’t get the chance to show off his famtastic voice often enough so it was great to have him perform “Life of the party” on this occasion. Beside being a fabulous singer he also proved that he is a wonderful and entertaining moderator and quite a talented auctioneer.

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However, the absolute highlight and probably on of the most heartbreakingly beautiful performances I have ever seen definitely was Matthew McKenna’s “No one but you”. I can hardly imagine how difficult it must have been for Matthew to sing this song at this event. I am happy and proud I was there to witness it and I’m sure everyone who attended the event will agree that this was one of those very special moments you will remember forever.

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Nathan James closed the evening with two songs – personally I’m not really a fan of him as a performer although I do think he has a great voice. But the audience clearly loved him so I guess he was a good addition to the line up. I do think Matthew McKenna’s song should have been the last one of the evening though simply because it was impossible to top such an amazing performance.

For everyone that is interested, here is the running order of the evening (please note that Matthew McKenna was meant to sing “Show must go on” but sang “No one but you” instead).

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Photo credit goes to @WestendFests . Go follow on Twitter to find out more about upcoming events.

Viva Forever at the Piccadilly Theatre – 25th January 2013

29 Jan

I’d like to start this post by pointing out that I have absolutely nothing against jukebox musicals. I’ve seen quite a lot – some of them more times than I should ever admit.

However, I do admit that my expectations of Viva Forever were quite low mainly because I had yet to hear from someone I know who really enjoyed the show. Beside that I had watched the so called highlights clip and was still trying to figure out what exactly deserved the title “highlight” in those 5 minutes.

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However, I tried to go with an open mind and give the show a fair chance. And the first 5 minutes into the show I actually thought that this might turn out to be quite a fun evening after all.

But how wrong was I?! I really hate to slaugther new shows but there’s really nothing I can say about Viva Forever beside: What a mess!

On the show’s website it says: “Viva Forever!” has exploded on to the stage at London’s Piccadilly Theatre and is wowing audiences with its clever mix of classic Spice Girls hits combined with Jennifer Saunders’ irresistibly funny story. Bringing some much needed spice to the West End, the show charts the journey of a girl and the people around her she loves, as she’s propelled into the superficial world of ‘Starmaker’, a TV talent show that offers the fame and fortune she thinks she craves. But life in the spotlight isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, for the contestants, their families or even those who have the deciding votes!”

What you really get is a completely bland story with some random Spice Girls songs thrown in (a lot of which are not even played out in full). The characters are either underdeveloped or completely over the top and the jokes are simply not funny.

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The cast itself isn’t bad at all. If you look at the ensemble you will find some of the best dancers in the West End. If only they would be used as more than walking props in this show! There are so few dance numbers and the little choreograhy you get is rather boring. Where are the big group numbers?

There’s one hint of what the show might have been like if it hadn’t been screwed up: In “2 become 1” Sally Ann Triplett (Lauren, Viva’s mum) and Simon Slater (Mitch) have the audience in stitches with their sweet but slightly awkward “get together” on a shared bed in a hotel room. But even though this scene does have potential the sing along attitude of the audience makes the whole thing rather cringeworthy.

Sadly that remains the only little “highlight” in this show. The rest is nothing but a bunch of random scenes, some of them so completely weird that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (“Spice up your life” springs to mind).

Hannah John-Kamen plays Viva, the female lead in the show. She does a good job but personally I wasn’t overally impressed by her. For me Siobhan Athwal (Luce) really stands out. She’s obviously supposed to be something like a “Mel B” character and she really is like a breath of fresh air in this rather dull show.

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Simon Adkins is wonderfully funny as Leon and makes the best of the material he has been given. Sally Dexter’s Simone (a former singer and one of the judges) is just plain ridiculous to watch, however, that is not Dexter’s fault but simply due to the way the part has been written. I totally dislike Tamara Wall’s Karen (the second judge) and don’t find her funny at all. Bill Ward’s Johnny (a Simon Cowell like character) gets almost overlooked in the middle of the two completely over the top female judges.

I could go on and on about the show’s faults but to be honest I really don’t care enough about the whole thing to actually spend any more time on writing about it. And that about sums up my opinion about Viva Forever – I can’t hate it because I don’t care enough.

However, as always I do suggest you make up your own mind. You can get day seats for 20 quid on most days so at least you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent seat. And if someone is reading this who really enjoyed the show please do let me know. I would love to hear what exactly you did find enjoyable – because who knows, I maybe I wasn’t as open minded as I wanted to be after all.

Viva Forever is playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. For more info an to book tickets go to http://www.vivaforeverthemusical.com.

Jersey Boys London, September 18th 2011

22 Sep

Yes, I am a Jersey Boys regular. I’ve been watching the show since July 2008 and have since then seen it more than 100 times (and no, that is no typo!). Jersey Boys is one of those shows that I can see again and again without getting bored. It has a gripping story, fantastic songs and is in my eyes almost flawless.

For all of you that have managed to avoid a trip to Jersey so far: The show tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (with a certain artistic freedom). The fact that it is not just a made up tale but in general the true history of real people is one of the reasons I’m fascinated by this musical. I remember the first time I went to watch Jersey Boys – I had no idea what to expect, all I had seen until then where clips online that had made me want to see the man with the fabulous voice on stage: Ryan Molloy (funny enough he was off sick on my first visit). It only took this one visit to get me hooked. So ever since that day Jersey Boys is on my “to see” list whenever I travel to London.

Once you’ve watched a show a certain amount of times you enjoy a few of change now and then. At least that’s what applies to me. So I am always up for understudy shows at Jersey Boys and I tend to book especially to see certain understudies on stage now and then.

The latest addition to those understudy shows happened on September 18th 2011. I do love Jon Boydon’s Tommy DeVito and I honestly miss Jon whenever I see the show and he’s not there but Ben Wheeler’s Tommy will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s probably a little due to the fact that he was my first ever Tommy back in 2008. But then he’s also a completely awesome performer. His Tommy is the perfect mix of dangerous and flirty, something that is quite hard to achieve. Plus I can basically see what his Tommy is thinking from every little facial expression and gesture. He doesn’t just act from script, he puts life into his performance. Ben’s Tommy is not just a one dimensional bully which makes it so interesting to see the characters development throughout the show.
What made this specific Sunday matinee even better was Mark Isherwood’s Nick Massi. He plays Nick exactly like he should be played (in my eyes at least). Nick Massi is a very defined and rather quiet character with a lot of style so for me it is important that he isn’t portayed as a joke figure. And unfortunately that can happen quite quickly with Nick wanting to “start his own group” all the time and doing the infamous “towel” speech in act 2. Mark’s Nick oozes charisma, simple as that. He’s elegant and laid back which is exactly why said towel speech comes across as a real outbreak of “the quiet one”. And I’d like to add that Mark’s smile really lights up the stage – such amazing stage presence! He needs to be on more often (who do I have to bribe??).
Matt Wycliffe always amazes me with the pure energy he puts into his performance. His Bob is very calm and collected yet he almost explodes (not literally!) with energy during the group songs and “Oh what a night”. And just how beautiful is that voice?! I will always miss Stephen Ashfield as Bob Gaudio, after all I’ve seen him in the show for 3 years. But I’m so glad they found Matt to replace Stephen and I honestly adore his Bob Gaudio.
Who’s missing? The one and only Mr. Molloy, of course. What can I say? He’s the man! I’ve never seen a performer like him on stage before. The guy is amazingly talented and if you ask me his voice is actually better than Frankie Valli’s. Plus Ryan is a born entertainer and that definitely shows in his performance. I sometimes wish he could just completely go for it and – for example – sing “Beggin” like he often does at promotional appearances (those riffs are awesome!!).
I seriously hope this wasn’t the first and last time I have seen these four guys on stage together. Their stage chemistry was fantastic and it was obvious they were having a great time performing together.

Wayne Smith as Bob Crewe always is a highlight in every Jersey Boys performance I attend. Yes, I loved Simon Adkin’s Bob Crewe and I always will. But Wayne really has made the character his own. His Bob Crewe has dignity and that is the most important thing everyone playing this part has to achieve. Bob Crewe was such a vital and important part in the history of the Four Season. As funny as his behaviour in the show is (all that “the stars are in alignment” stuff and so on) he can’t be portrayed as a walking joke. And Wayne manages this perfectly. I love his Bob Crewe and beside Matt Wycliffe he is my favourite addition to the Jersey Boys family.
Chris Gardner is doing a good job as Hank Majewski but I have to say he still doesn’t really covince me in the part. His Hank just seems a bit bland but then the part itself is not exactly the most exciting in the show. I have seen his Bob Gaudio and I really enjoyed his performance in that part so it’s probably rather the character’s than Chris’ fault that I just can’t warm to his Hank.
Jake Samuels has really grown into his role over the last few months. It’s no secret that I miss Joseph Prouse’s Norman Waxman dearly though. Joseph just had some kind of sparkle that Jake unfortunately lacks. He’s really good as Nick Massi though and I hope I get to see him in that part again.
Paul Iveson was on as Donnie/Knuckles. He did well but for some reason Paul never totally amazes me. He is good in every part I’ve seen him in but he hasn’t managed to work his way up to be my favourite in any of them.
Carl Au has developed so much since he started in the show. When I first saw him as Joey Pesci I thought he was way too insecure and not funny at all. But now he’s definitely settled into the role. Seeing his Frankie Valli is still on my list.
The three girls on stage always tend to stand in the shadow of the boys which is a shame. Rachael Wooding’s Mary Delgado is feisty and full of energy. She’s definitely my favourite since Suzy Bastone. Charlie Bull as Lorraine has grown a lot in the role over the last 1,5 years. Her Lorraine is more vulnerable now which makes me feel for the character. And Lauren Hall is by far the best Francine I have seen in the show. It’s fantastic to see what she makes of such a small role. When Francine phones her dad in act 2 I cannot help but wonder what must have happened to that girl to make her so fearful and insecure, something that has never happened to me with any of the other girls I’ve seen as Francine.

Only downside of this performance were certain people in the audience. Don’t you just hate it when people talk loudly during the show? And if you read this, yes I mean you, the two middle aged guys in the second row. So inconsiderate and just plain rude.
But even that can not prevent me from saying that this was one of the best performances of Jersey Boys I have seen in the last couple of months and I was once again reminded why I’ve seen it so many times. I truly love this show and as long as it is running in the West End I will be back for more.

Jersey Boys is showing at the Prince Edwards Theatre. For more info go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/