06th Aug2017

Evita (Theatre)

by timbaros

Gian Marco Schiaretti (Che) and Emma Hatton (Eva Perón) in Evita - Pamela Raith Photography (060)The classic musical ‘Evita’ has returned to the West End to mark the 65th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón, the woman who was revered in Argentina not only as the wife of that country’s President Juan Perón but also as a woman who was perhaps more powerful than her husband.

‘Evita’ takes us through the highs and many lows of Eva Perón. Played by Emma Hatton (‘Wicked’), ‘Evita’ begins somberly at her funeral, attendees dressed in black – and this sets the tone for the first 30 minutes of this show – dark, deep and depressing. With lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, ‘Evita’ finally finds it feet with the rise of Eva, which was her real name. She becomes as actress in Buenos Aires, but she had bigger ambitions, ambitions that would lead her to meet Juan Perón at a party she’s helped to organize to raise money for San Juan, Argentina, which was devastated by an earthquake. Juan, played by Kevin Stephen Jones, falls head over heals with Eva – he’s met his match – she’s just as strong and confident as he is. But it’s the public that takes to her – they love her and see her as a queen and perhaps more – perhaps as a leader for their country. But as history tells us, Eva Perón never got to see her 34th birthday, she died at the age of 33 in 1952, and ‘Evita’ the musical takes us through this journey, with the help of narrator Che (excellently played and sung by Gian Marc Schiaretti).

‘Evita’ is pure musical joy. There’s not one word in the show that is spoken – the plot is all told in song, and what great songs they are, 39 years after they were first written. This includes the lovely melodies of ‘I’d be Surprisingly good for you’ – when Evita initially meets Juan; to the rousing ‘A New Argentina;’ and the show-stopping ’On the Balcony of Casa Rosado’ where we see, in a breathtaking scene, Evita speaking (singing) to the crowd from the balcony of the palace; also the classic ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ where Eva sings in the hospital after her fatal diagnosis; and the fantastic and very memorable ‘And the Money Keeps Rolling In’ where Schiaretti really shines, and proves, that he is the true star of this show. As Che, he literally steals the spotlight from Hatton. Schiaretti is a regular concert performer and has performed throughout Europe and has played Tarzan on stage – ‘Evita’ will definitely raise his profile. The rest of the production is just fine, with an excellent supporting cast (especially Sarah O’Connor as the mistress of the President who Eva replaces, and holds her own in the solo number ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall.’) ‘Evita’ is only on for three months, so if you’ve never seen it before (this is third version I’ve seen, though I’m a bit too young to have seen the original version which made Elaine Paige a star in London and Patti Lupone a star in New York), I urge you to see it. While Hatton is very good, Schiaretti is amazing. And in this touring revival, directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, is staged perfectly in the cozy Phoenix Theatre.

For tickets, please go to:

http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/phoenix-theatre/

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29th Jul2017

The Marriage of Kim K. (Theatre)

by timbaros

kimk-vanity-plate-3For a different night at the theatre, go see “The Marriage of Kim K.”

Yes, you read that right. The famous opera “The Marriage of Figaro” has been modernised for the 21st century in a show now playing at the Arcola Theatre – it’s a show that reflects our appetite for all things reality. And there is no bigger reality star than Kim Kardashian. But the “Marriage of Kim K.” goes a bit further, it specifically looks at Kim K.’s 72-day marriage to American basketball star Kris Humphries in 2011. And this segment of their marriage is interspliced with a modern day couple watching television and a third couple actual performing scenes from “The Marriage of Figaro” opera. It’s a bit unusual, yes, but it works.

For 90 minutes, all three couples have their moment. Kris (James Edge who plays the tall and dumb athlete very well) can only think of one thing – sex – with Kim K. (Yasemin Mireille – who’s got a butt to rival Kim K.s’). And newly-qualified lawyer and Keeping Up With The Kardiashian’s-watching fan Amelia (Amelia Gabriel – very good) and her yet to be successful songwriting husband Stephen (Stephen Hyde – good as well), and by the way who are a couple in real life, are all lovey dovey then bicker about her KUWTK addiction. And Emily Burnett (excellent) plays Countess Almaviva while Nathan Bellis (good) is Count Almaviva. The differences in their background – he comes from aristocracy while she has a less privileged background – causes rifts and tension in their marriage. And the finale of this show takes off in a crescendo-exploding battle of the singing divas and divos as they all fight to save their marriages (except Kim K. because before the end of her marriage to Kris she had already met Kanye West). And we all know that it took Kim and Kris two years to actual get their divorce final because Kim wanted an annulment while Kris wanted an actual divorce.

Hyde, who wrote the music, and Leo Mercer, story and lyrics, have created a unique and timely piece of theatre that is innovative and timely. It’s very unique and is much more interesting that anything the Kardashians get up to themselves.

The Marriage of Kim K. is part of Arcola Theatre’s Grimborn season, where bold new versions of classic operas, rarely-seen and long forgotten works, are being presented until September 2, 2017
For tickets, please go to:

Grimeborn

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24th Jul2017

Briefs: Close Encounters (Theatre)

by timbaros

ACF-11Jun-BriefsCE-credit-Kate-Pardey-123-1Those naughty Briefs boys from Australia are back in London in a new show at the South Bank’s Underbelly Festival called “Briefs: Close Encounters.”

And yes, it ’s close encounters of the good kind as the sextet lead us into a space-like zen to bring us a show where they twirl, twist, jump, bend and do all other sorts of things with their bodies while wearing very little clothing. As in years past, the Briefs Boys wow their audiences with stunts which you’ve probably seen before but where this time it’s a tight shw where they present a sharp, non-stop titillating 65-minute burlesque that’s more bang for your buck instead of long interludes between acts. Once again Shivannah (Fez Faanana) is the compere for the evening in her glittery best. She does an excellent job taking us through the evening – with amazing costumes! Captain Kidd wows us with his tight-rope climbing using his tight muscular body, while Louis Biggs shows us his balls, ping pong balls to be exact, and how he can juggle them while completing a rubiks cube, all in a state of undress. While cute as a button Thomas Worrell shines on the hoops as well as in a bird cage twirling himself over the audience and very very close to the edge of the stage. It’s death defying! This and more is all done in the safe confines of the Underbelly tent where a bar inside and the fantastic bar outside will keep your thirst quenched while you enjoy the show – before and after as well. And if you don’t get enough of the Aussie heartthrobs, you can stay for Club Briefs, the show held right after. So get ready for a night of music, performance and all sorts of mayhem.

Customers purchasing tickets for both Club Briefs and Briefs: Close Encounters in the same order will receive £5 off their order per person. (If you’ve already purchased a ticket to Briefs: Close Encounters, please visit our box office or call 0333 344 4167 to obtain your discount off Club Briefs.)

To purchase tickets, please go here:
http://www.underbellyfestival.com/#stq=&stp=1

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22nd Jul2017

Twilight Song (Theatre)

by timbaros

Twilight Song - Kevin Elyot - Park Theatre - 13th July 2017You know a show doesn’t make much sense, when, after seeing it, you and your friends don’t agree on what you’ve all just seen. To say “Twilight Song” is bit confusing is putting is mildly.

Now playing at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, “Twilight Song” is late British playwright Kevin Elyot’s final play. Elyot,who wrote the award winning and very successful play “My Night with Reg: (which was turned into a film in 1997), died in 2014, finishing “Twilight Song” right before he passed away. But the play itself is not a very good testament as a cap on his career – it’s a show muddled with characters and storylines that go back and forth in time that unfortunately raises more questions than answers in a play that’s a very very short 75 minutes.

Most of Elyot’s plays have direct gay themes or gay undertones (“My Night with Reg” was very similar to the groundbreaking 1969 film “Boys in the Band”), and “Twilight Song” is no exception. In a nutshell, it’s a play abut a middle aged man Basil (Paul Higgins) who lives in a North London terraced house (with an unfinished balcony) with his mother Isabella (Bryony Hannah) in the present day. Flash back to 1967 and Isabella is pregnant. But in both the present and the past (to and including a scene set in 1961), the family has secrets, secrets that they keep to themselves, and even secrets that they do not want to admit to themselves. Basil (Paul Higgins) pays an estate agent (Adam Garcia) money, not for a real estate transaction, but for sex, which happens too suddenly and out of the blue and out of character. Then Isabella unrealistically falls into the arms of the gardner (Garcia again). Meanwhile her uncle Harry (Philip Bretherton) pines for Charles (Hugh Ross), but Charles is broke because he is being swindled by a hustler (Garcia again). “Twilight Song” takes us all too rapidly through this family’s 50 year history too quickly. Throw in some cock talk, unknown origin of blood on the sofa, and a very very short running time, and it doesn’t leave us much time to get to know the characters and their motivations. Director Anthony Banks gets excellent use of his actors who all give fine performances, and a set design that’s true to it’s time (though an annoyingly loud refrigerator in their kitchen really serves no purpose and destroys the play’s tension), but it’s the storyline that doesn’t add up, and it’s shame because it is Elyot’s last work, and it’s being poorly received.

Another one of Elyot’s plays, “Coming Clean,” will have a revival at the King’s Head Theatre later this year, so perhaps hold out for that one if you can.

If you still want to buy tickets to “Twilight Song,” please go here:

https://www.parktheatre.co.uk

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16th Jul2017

Boys in the Buff (Theatre)

by timbaros
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you want an entertaining, fun, sexy and scandalous night at the theatre, then Boys in the Buff is the show for you.

It’s a show that objectifies the male body, and a musical bacchanalia full of fabulous song and dance by a crew who don’t take the show, or themselves, too seriously – they’re having fun and they let the audience in on all the fun as well.

Natalie Harman as Diana is the hostess with the mostest – our compere for the evening. However, she unfortunately tells the boys what they can, and cannot do, and that means she demands that they don’t take their clothes off too soon in the show:( ! But before they do the dirty and exciting deed, we are treated to song after song of camp musical numbers in a show that packs a lot in to it’s 90 minutes in length.

Energetic and handsome William Frazer as Dan belts it out in the cute number “I Can Fly,” while the gang of men gets physical in “The Gym.” Shaun Riddick as Richard practically brings the house down in “My Foreskin and Me” and the hot and sexy and muscly Adam O’Shea gets to strut his stuff (along with his buff body) throughout the show which will have you screaming for more. And finally there’s Phil (Julian Quijano), who soon finds the confidence to strip off for the audience.

It’s all done in style that’s creates a cozy Chicago-style like cabaret show in a venue that’s perfect for it’s content – the Stockwell Playhouse (a/k/a Lost Theatre). Boys in the Buff is a musical revue with lots of skin on show that’s The Full Monty but with lots of laughs and thankfully some Monty.

To buy tickets, please go to:

http://losttheatre.co.uk

Boys in the Buff is playing until July 29th, so go see it as soon as you can!

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15th Jul2017

Yank (Theatre)

by timbaros

The company of YANK! at Charing Cross Theatre 2, credit Clair BilyardA gay fictional World War II love story that tells some of it’s story via musical numbers is now playing at the Charing Cross Theatre.

In “Yank,” Stu (Scott Hunter), also given the name ‘light loafers’ by his 89th squadron fellow soldiers, is an 18 year-old wet behind the ears soldier drafted for WW II. His fellow soldiers know that he is gay, hence the nickname, but they must also contend with trying to save their lives as battles loom ahead. It’s not too long before Stu and fellow soldier, the hot and sexy Mitch (Andy Coxon), get together. After a few side glances and more than a few cheeky conversations, they expectantly kiss when they’re forced to share a bunk bed (ah, it’s all of our fantasies!). But is Mitch really gay or is he caught up in the moment? Their sort of relationship takes a turn when Stu is offered a job writing for Yank Magazine (it might just as well be called Wank magazine). It’s a job Stu wants because it will take him away from fighting on the front lines and will hopefully one day help him to publish the diary he has written of his exploits as a soldier. Stu’s new position takes him all over but he begs his editor Artie (Chris Kiely) to go to Hawaii as this is where the 89th is fighting, and it’s of course where Mitch is. Stu can’t stop thinking about Mitch and they rekindle the romance they had, well now it’s more than a romance, it’s a full blown relationship as Mitch discusses them moving back to his hometown and living together. But it’s the evil Tennessee (Lee Dillon) who steals Stu’s diary and turns in into the authorities in a time when homosexuality was absolutely forbidden in the army. And things will not be the same for Stu and Mitch and the rest of the 89th- war, death, and jail rear it’s ugly head.

‘Yank’ is reminiscent of the war musicals of Rogers & Hammerstein (“South Pacific”) where romance, between a man and woman, was interspliced with memorable musical numbers. In “Yank,” brothers David and Joseph Zellnik have created a gay WWII love story that pays homage to these 1940’s musicals and cleverly takes the name of their show from the WWII army publication Yank, the Army Weekly. Having opened up, appropriately, on gay pride weekend, Yank is a celebration of gays in the military, but it does make a few missteps along the way. Hunter is fine as the scared soldier Stu, but I didn’t find him as charasmatic as he should’ve been, while some of the staging and songs are a bit off, including a song about pin-up girls (“Betty”) that goes on way too long. Coxon shows that he’s the true stage actor among the cast – his acting and singing are excellent, while the rest of the supporting soldiers do the best they can do with what they have been given (a scene about gay telephone operators is a bit dreadful and really doesn’t need to be in the show). There is at times clever use of the stage, including during the battle and interrogation scenes, and Sarah-Louise Young is just about perfect in her various roles. Director James Baker just doesn’t get it exactly right in making this show a must see event. While it’s a show that is light on it’s feet and has a few snappy musical numbers, it’s not groundbreaking nor particularly excellent.

To buy tickets, please go to:
http://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/yank-a-wwii-love-story

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06th Jul2017

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (Theatre)

by timbaros
Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at the Wyndham's Theatre until 9 September 2017. CREDIT Marc Bren

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 9 September 2017. CREDIT Marc Bren

Billie Holiday is alive and well and performing at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre.

Well, it’s not quite Billie Holiday – it’s mega Broadway star Audra McDonald making her West End Debut in a show where she performs as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. And while most of us have never actually seen the real Holiday sing live, I can only imagine McDonald is as close as the real thing.

Billie Holiday, who was known as ‘Lady Day’, had one of the greatest jazz voices of all time. But sadly she died at the age of 44 in 1959 after a turbulent life, which included drug and alcohol addiction. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill takes place in South Philadelphia right before her death, and where she sings and also tells stories about her life, loves, and family. She recounts the time she was performing with musician Artie Shaw in an all-white club and was refused the use of the all-white woman’s bathroom so she pissed on the floor. Lady Day mentions that her mother called The Duchess married at the age of 16 and her father was 19, while she was three. And she rasps lyrical about the love of her life, Sunny, who didn’t exactly treat her like a lady. And she briefly mentions the year she spent in prison for drug possession. All this, plus signature Holliday songs such as Strange Fruit, Easy Livin’ and many many others are beautifully done at The Wyndham’s Theatre which has been crafted to emulate the original Emerson’s Tavern as it was known. And McDonald is astonishing as Holliday.

It’s not just that McDonald is acting like Holiday, but McDonald sings like Holiday as well. There’s a reason why McDonald has one 6 Tony Awards, she is one if not the most accomplished stage actress of our time. The likes of Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone or Elaine Paige don’t hold a candle to McDonald. She’s appeared on stage in both musicals and dramas such as Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun and Master Class when she was young where she proved that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Accompanied by Shelton Becton on piano, Frankie Tontoh on Drums and Neville Malcolm on Bass, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is a lush tribute to the woman who died way before her time, and a tribute to the woman who plays her – it’s a tour de force performance.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is playing until September 9, 2017. Regular seats can be purchased, or there are several tables in the stalls and even some on the stage that are for sale for those who want a complete cabaret experience.

https://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/tickets/lady-day/

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28th Jun2017

Bat Out of Hell (Theatre)

by timbaros

Andrew Polec as Strat (left) in BAT OUT OF HELL credit SpecularMe and a friend went to hell the other night – Bat Out of Hell. And by the end of the night, we didn’t want to leave.

On the hottest night of the year (well actually the hottest night in 40 years), we went to see Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell, The Musical at the London Coliseum. And not only was it too hot to be in a poorly air-conditioned auditorium, it was probably the worst night to watch a show that included loud music, actors singing at the top of their lungs, and plumes of flames being shot from the stage – but it turned out to be one helluva ride.

Bat Out of Hell was born, literally, 40 years ago, when musician Meatloaf (along with composer Steinman) released the seminal and massive selling record that went on to sell millions and millions of albums around the world. It included massive hits such as “You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and the most famous one – “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” – songs that are still popular even today, more so as karaoke and wedding songs. These songs, along with the other songs from the album, and newer songs written only for this production, are cleverly used as the story for this massive show. Yes, there is a story, it is, however, a weak one, you can practically see right through it, but for this show it’s all about the way the story is told, the production, that makes Bat Out of Hell not just different but memorable, and ah so much better than the horrible jukebox musicals that have played in the West End in the past including the dreadful We Will Rock You and the easily missed Let it Be.

Bat Out of Hell is a goth lovers dream. We’ve got Raven (Christina Bennington) who is in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks – Strat (Andrew Polec – who’s going to be the next Killian Donnelly – and if you don’t know who that is look him up). Strat hangs out with a very rough crowd, a group of outcasts called The Lost. Raven’s parents Falco (Rob Fowler) – who rules the post apocalyptic Manhattan – and her mother Sloane (Sharon Sexton), are so overprotective of Raven that they, especially Falco, forbid her from seeing Strat. Of course Raven will do anything to see him, so she sneaks out at night (in her cleverly designed bedroom in a high skyscraper where unbelievably most of the show takes place – but it works!) to be with Strat, but there is a snitch in Strat’s gang who ends up telling Falco where Raven and Strat are. You can pretty much tell what’s going to happen next – Falco goes in search of his daughter, and then there’s a poorly choreographed incident where someone gets shot – a scene we could tell was going to happen a mile away. This is when Bat Out of Hell loses all credibility in it’s storyline, but it more than makes up for it overall with the visuals and musical aspects of the show.

Director Jay Scheib had a big task ahead of him in telling this dark story with dark music, and he greatly succeeds. Using Raven’s bedroom as the focal point of hers, and the shows, anguish, heartbreak and young love, Scheib also employs video shot live from her bedroom projected onto at times different screens on the stage so the audience can see, up close, the actor’s reactions to the dramatic dialogue and story unfolding right before our very eyes. And props are cleverly used, especially a car that’s initially being used as a sexual romp between Falco and Sloane (reminiscing about their youth while singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”) and the car eventually winds up in the orchestra pit.

Not enough good things can be said about the cast – they are all superb. Polec looks, acts and sings like a rock star – he’s got the vocal chops to prove he can sing just as well as Meatloaf. Bennington is perfectly cast as the lovely flower love interest Raven, she belts out quite a few numbers and can hold her own. Fowler keeps his head above water in such a talented cast as Raven’s stern and controlling father, but it is the beautiful Sexton as Raven’s mother Sloane who seems to be a natural – you can’t not stare at her when she’s on stage – she’s commanding and wonderful. Also need to be mentioned are two members of Strat’s gang who end up having a bit of a romance, Jagwire (the wonderful Dam Hartley-Harris) and the amazing Danielle Steers as Zahara who does double duty as an employee of Falco – and she can sing – wow!

It’s sensory overload in a good way. It’s an assault on your senses – the music, the lights, and the actors – wow – the actors can sing – very very good – like rockstars. They’re all over the place.

By the end of the show I was dripping wet from the heat, and I’d almost lost my hearing from the loud music, and my eyes were sensitive because of the strobe lighting used in the show, however, would I go back to see it again? Hell yes!

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23rd Jun2017

The Kite Runner (Theatre)

by timbaros

The Kite Runner Playhouse Theatre Amir (David Ahmad) Hassan (Andrei Costin) Photo Irina ChiraThe beautiful story of two young Afghani men returns to the London stage in a production that will break your heart.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling 2003 novel, was turned into an acclaimed 2007 movie and recently won rave reviews at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre, is back again and now paying at The Playhouse Theatre. Its story resonated so much with theatregoers, and after sellout crowds in its original run, it’s been granted to fly again in a limited 8-week run.

The Kite Runner is the story of true friendship, and also true betrayal. David Ahmad is Amir, who lives with his wealthy father Baba (Emilio Doorgasingh) in Kabul, Afghanistan. They employ Baba’s long-time servant Ali (Ezra Faroque Khan), along with his son Hassan (Andrei Costin). Both Amir and Hassan lost their mothers, so Amir and Hassan have become close, even though they both come from different classes of society. They’ve formed a bond with each other and especially love to fly kites together. Hassan ends up becoming Amir’s kite runner – he basically retrieves the kite after knowing where it’s going to fall. The young men are practically inseparable, especially when the local thug Assef (Bhavin Bhatt) threatens them perhaps because he is jealous of their close friendship. But one day, after a kite competition, Hassan is captured by Assef, who proceeds to taunt and then rape him. But it’s Amir who witnesses the whole thing – he doesn’t even step in to help, and it’s a guilt that he carries around with him, enough so that he attempts to have his father get rid of Hassan and Amir. This is when the story goes in a different direction and takes us on a journey to America where Amir and Baba eventually find themselves after leaving war torn Afghanistan. Amir eventually settles down in San Francisco with a wife, but he’s torn with guilt over what he did or did not do for Hassan. And this guilt has him trace his steps back to Afghanistan in the hopes of finding Hassan and to rekindle the relationship that they had when they were boys. But there’s more in store for him than what he bargains for.

The Kite Runner doesn’t need any sort of magic wand or razzle dazzle to tell it’s story – it’s the story in itself that is strong enough to hold the audiences attention. We see the beautiful friendship between Hassan and Amir that is eventually shattered and when the story takes it to another direction we feel Amir’s pain and heartbreak and guilt and we hope the characters will eventually find happiness, though deep down we know that’s not going to be the case. Matthew Spangler has successfully adapted the book for the stage (again) while Director Giles Croft works with an excellent acting ensemble with a very minimalist set as he excellently guides his actors to portray the characters very beautifully and emotionally.

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18th Jun2017

Lady Bunny in Trans-Jester (Theatre)

by timbaros

340A0338She’s the queen of drag queens, and almost as famous as the Queen of England, Lady Bunny is back in town to perform her one woman show called “Trans-jester,” and no one is safe from her catty claws and endless wit. It’s a no holds-barred performance that is the best of Lady Bunny.

She commands the stage in her glitteringly-best sequins and a wig that practically reaches the ceiling. With shiny jewellery that, she tells you, is bought at yard sales.

Lady Bunny, direct but not straight from New York, provides her loyal and tongue-wagging audience with literally an oral history of her life, which included lots of black cock-sucking jokes, as well as her days as a no name drag queen in Atlanta Georgia USA when her and Rupaul used to be roommates.

Lady Bunny also gets all political by discussing the ridiculous notion of how now everyone has to go by a label. She tells us that she remembers when it used to be only ‘G’ but now it’s LGBTQIA – she screams that it’s ridiculous to have labels – and the audience agreed with her with a roaring cheer! Bunny doesn’t hold back when discussing Bruce Jenner and his transformation to Caitlyn and how his Republican arse and new pussy doesn’t come close to representing her community. And there are quite a few hilarious Kardashian jokes thrown in for good jester.

But Bunny is best when she does jokes. They come fast and furious in the part of the show that is her tribute to the old U.S. television show Laugh-In. It’s a skit she used to do at the late and great Wigstock Drag Queen festival she founded in the late 1980’s and which sadly came to an end in 2001.

Lady Bunny is an institution, and she should be in an institution (ha ha ha). But she’s one of a kind, the Queen, a pure Lady, and now’s your chance to go see her live in person before she’s put out to pasture. Long Live Lady Bunny!

Lady Bunny Trans-jester is playing at the Soho Theatre until Saturday July 1st.

To buy tickets, please go here:

http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/lady-bunny-in-trans-jester

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23rd May2017

5 Guys Chillin’ (Theatre)

by timbaros

5 Guys Chillin' (c) Laura Marie Linck (7)There’s a chemsex party taking place at the King’s Head Theatre. No, it’s not an actual party – It’s the returning show 5 Guys Chillin’.

In the comforts of the living room of J (David Palmstrom) and M (George Fletcher), them and three other guys (actually men) are enjoying each other as well as the drugs on the table in order to experience the highs, and in some cases, the lows, of what gay men (not all gay men) are getting into nowadays; drugs and sex and more drugs and in some cases unsafe sex in private house parties.

B (Gareth Watkins) and R (Tom Ratcliffe) are a bit of an unmatched couple; R is very young but not so innocent, while muscular big daddy B is experienced and likes it any which way and loose. And the last one to arrive at the party is Pakistani PJ (George Bull). He’s a bit unsure as to why he’s there, but slowly gets into the action. But he’s got a story to tell the other guys; he’s actually married with a young child because it’s what is expected in his culture. Besides him, all the guys have stories to tell; B’s story is particularly vivid as he recounts the time he was spit roast in Berlin where sexual diseases were not discussed. It’s all a lot to take in; the plays’ honesty and brutal nature is scary because know all know these types of gay men, and parties, do actually exist. And all the actors should be admired for performing such an in your face play shedding emotions as well as bravely shedding their clothes. Writer and Director Peter Darney seems to have gotten the tone and characters right, but luckily I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been and don’t plan to go to one of these parties.

Playing until June 3rd – for tickets, please go here:

https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873572428/events/128101674

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22nd May2017

Judy (Theatre)

by timbaros

Judy! 11 - photocreditIt’s Judy Judy Judy in the new show aptly titled Judy now playing at the Arts Theatre in Central London.

We are treated to Judy Garland in three pivotal stages of her life. There’s the young Judy before her Wizard of Oz role – ages 13 through 16 – brilliantly played by Lucy Penrose. Then there is Palace Judy – the time in Garland’s life when she was performing on Broadway at the Palace Theatre, age 29 – with Belinda Wollaston in the role. Then we’re treated to CBS Judy – the 47 year-old star (played by Helen Sheals) who, unbeknownst to all, was in the last year of her life while having her own television show on America’s CBS network.

The intertwining of Judy’s lives in this show is both fantastic and fabulous. It’s also tragic because Judy died at the age of 47 in London due to an overdose of barbiturates in 1969 (a few days later the Stonewall riots kicked off). Judy had such a tumultuous life, and it didn’t make matters any better in that she was an extremely insecure, and nervous, woman. Young Judy’s father (played by Joe Shefer) ran a cinema, but he also had a predilection for young boys. Her mother Ethel (Amanda Bailey) was an extremely controlling stage mother. But Palace Judy’s life isn’t much better. In her 20’s she takes various drugs just to help her get through each day, and even though she married five times, it was Sid Luft (Harry Anton) who was the one who really cared for her. But CBS Judy (who actually opens the show with a rounding version of ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’ – sung brilliantly by Sheals) seems to be on the right track – she’s got a hit television show – but the network keeps on demanding more and more from her, and the bills keep piling up. It’s too much for a woman as fragile as Judy to take, and even though her death is not played out on stage, we all know what’s going to happen to her next.

Judy is excellent. It’s all due to the three women who play Judy, they are all very good – but it’s Penrose who shines a bit more because she plays the version of Judy who is young and innocent, and Penrose conveys that excellently. When all three sing ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ – it’s an event! And when all three get together to sing the finale – ‘Over the Rainbow’ – there’s not a dry eye in the house.

Director and writer Ray Rackham, along with the rest of his crew, have staged a musical that tells the life of Judy Garland who was larger than life. And the parallel timeframes used in this production is genius. Cleverly, the musicians also act in the show, including Judith Kramer, who plays CBS Judy’s assistant. This same production was at the intimate Southwark Playhouse last year and it’s good to see that practically the same cast and crew were brought back to stage this show in a bigger theatre for more people to watch it.

Judy is a fabulous and fantastic show. It’s only playing at the Arts Theatre until June 17th, so catch it as soon as you can. Tickets can be bought here:
https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk

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19th May2017

Kings Cross [Remix] (Theatre)

by timbaros

Kings Cross night sky landscapeTake a journey to 1980’s London, specifically the King’s Cross area, through the storytelling of Tom Marshman, in the new show Kings Cross Remix. The one man show, at the Camden People’s Theatre, is a tour de force performance by Marshman, too young to remember the stories he’s telling, yet he tells them so vividly, with such authority and believability that he makes us actually believe he was there. Through the use of video and audio tape recordings of the people who were actually around during those times, Marshman weaves together these stories in a 60-minute show to great effect. He talks about the long gone disco Bagely’s nightclub, the denizens of King Cross including the hookers and the club kids, a unique story about the late and great Leigh Bowery, and grainy video footage of the once popular gay bar and club The Bell (this footage can also be found on Youtube). But Marshman also transports us to this decade when lots of our fellow friends were dying of AIDS, and one audio clip of a man who is a patient representative at a local clinic remembers the days when gay men were diagnosed with GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and were in their last days as there no hope for them. Marshman also chillingly brings up the arrival of patient zero – the man who introduced HIV into England. This and more is all told with the songs of Donna Summers Last Dance and lots of other disco classics as the soundtrack, and footage of Jimmy Somerville in his early days who can now be found from time to time drinking at his local bar Central Station. Marshman’s show celebrates a time when the scene in Kings Cross was more fun but also a bit dangerous and not posh as it is now. It’s a great show and Marshman does a very good job in telling these stories.

For tickets, please go to:

https://www.cptheatre.co.uk

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17th May2017

Room (Theatre)

by timbaros

unnamed-319The story of a mother and son held captive in a room was so beautifully and emotionally told in last year’s film ‘Room.’ There is now a stage adaptation of that Oscar-winning film playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Emma Donoghue, who wrote the book in which the film was based on, also wrote the stage adaptation, and it’s an interesting one. The stage show mimics the plot of the movie, however, more elements are added to it. First off, there’s a narrator who speaks out loud the thoughts of 5-year old Jake (ably played by Harrison Wilding on the night I saw it); it’s Jack’s perspective this show is told from (as in the book); and surprisingly the show is also told via songs – effective at times but a bit inappropriate at other times.

Room, in case you missed the film, is about a woman and her son who are being held hostage by a man simply known as Old Nick (Liam McKenna). The mother, Ma (excellently played by Witney White), has been imprisoned by him for seven years. Ma and Jack are unable to leave the room, locked in by the man who is Jack’s father who takes his liberties with Ma whenever he wants. And Ma has to be ever so grateful when he brings her and Jack the staples and necessities they need to live on. But it’s Jack who has adapted to living in the room – it’s all he knows. He also knows to hide in the wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit – it’s these time that the show takes, to great effect, a dark and eerie tone. It’s complemented by the set – a room in the middle of the stage – that cleverly swings around when Nick is ‘visiting’ – so we see Jack’s frightened viewpoint from the wardrobe – which is also his bed – it’s expertly thought out. Jack’s thoughts come via the narration by Fela Lufadeju – Big Jack – who is Little Jacks’ voice and his conscience. It’s narration that at times is cute and funny and at times very serious, but it’s also does get in the way of the very dramatic story unfolding on stage.

Without giving too much away, and as mentioned above, the rest of story plays out in similar parallel with the movie, with the second half taking place in a home (as opposed to a room), where Ma and Jack have to adjust to life outside the room. It’s with the help of Ma’s mother (a good performance by Lucy Tregar) that shifts the second half into another gear, a bit slower and less intense than the first, but dramatic nonetheless.

Room has elements of it that work and don’t work. Room’s premise is very theatrical, with the whole story being told inside four walls, which this production excellently shows. In the first room there are the items that Jack has named (plant, TV, etc..), then there’s a hospital room, and then on to Grandma’s house, it’s a set superbly designed by Lily Arnold. And there is also excellent use of lighting and visuals on the walls that are characters and images seen from the eyes of a child. The cast do a very good job and it’s a helluva emotional show to be performing seven times a week (three young actors take turns playing the role of Jack). But the use of Big Jack is a device that doesn’t quite work, and some of the songs (music by Kathryn Joseph) in the second half just don’t quite work with the dark theme of the show. Nonetheless, if you loved the movie and read the book, then this is must see theatre, and only it’s playing until June 3rd.

To book tickets, please go here:
http://www.stratfordeast.com

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