Tag Archives: Tom Lister

42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

25 Apr

It is the return of the big tap spectacle to London’s West End. 42nd Street has moved into Theatre Royal Drury Lane and it definitely has not done so unnoticed.

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This is the revival of an American classic – some might call it the mother of all showbiz musicals. Director Mark Bramble does not go for understatement in this production. With 43 ensemble members 42nd Street fills the big stage of Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Watching the partly opened curtain at the start of the show and the long line of dancing feet is a sight (and sound) to behold.

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Save to say if you do not enjoy masses of dancers tap their feet off this show is not for you. But if you do enjoy a glittering, loud tap dancing spectacle 42nd Street is your definition of heaven on earth.

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Clare Halse shines as out-of-town dancer Peggy Sawyer who is hoping to get her big break on Broadway. Stuart Neal (Billy Lawlor) shows he is not just a tremendous actor and singer but also a wonderful dancer.

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Tom Lister (Julian Marsh) commands the stage – his solo moment at the end of the show is one of my highlights. It is such a simple yet incredibly powerful scene and Tom Lister quite simply nails it. Sheena Easton is perfectly cast as leading lady / diva Dorothy Brock. A special mention goes to Norman Bowman who is underused as Pat Denning – personally I cannot wait to see his take on Julian Marsh.

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But the real star of the show is the tap dancing ensemble. Those guys and girls seem to have unlimited resources of energy. They carry this show and they do so with big smiles.

42nd Street does things big – from the number of ensemble members to costumes and set. Visually you will not find a more stunning musical in town at this point. And I had a brilliant time diving into the glittering world of 42nd Street. This show dazzled and amazed me – no question about that. However, what it failed to do is touch my heart. But then I doubt this is what the production was planning to do. You do not watch 42nd Street with teary eyes because what you are seeing is so stunningly beautiful. You watch it with a huge smile on your face because you are being entertained at the highest level. And entertained I was.

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So do not hesitate – I urge you to go and meet those dancing feet.

42nd Street is running at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. For more info and to book tickets visit http://www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk/.

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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.