26th Apr2016

Funny Girl (Theatre)

by timbaros

FUNNY GIRL by Styne, , Music - Jule Styne, Lyrics - Bob Merril, Director - Michael Mayer, Choreographer - Lynne Page, Set Michael Pavelka, Costumes - Matthew Wright, Lighting - Mark Henderson, Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

Is there anything Sheridan Smith can’t do?

She’s now playing Fanny Brice in the new West End musical Funny Girl, but Smith has done quite a bit in her short 34 years. Already an OBE, Smith has won tons of awards for her work both on stage and on television. She’s won two Laurence Olivier Awards (Legally Blonde in 2011 and Flare Path in 2012) and one television BAFTA (Mrs. Biggs in 2013). Smith has also been featured in several films in the past few years, including the recent ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ and 2013’s ‘Powder Room’ and ‘The Harry Hill Movie.’ But it’s her role as Brice in ‘Funny Girl’ that’s bringing Smith more plaudits and acclaim.

In a role Smith starred in last year to sell out crowds at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it’s now transferred to the Savoy Theatre for a short 12 week run. Smith plays Brice, a role which made Barbra Streisand famous (and which won her a Tony and an Oscar), so Smith has huge shoes to follow. And does she fill them? Not even close.

Fanny Brice is the true story of a young Brooklyn born Jewish girl with huge stage aspirations. The real Brice was born in 1891 to Hungarian immigrants who had arrived to the U.S. as children but managed to make a life for themselves and their children in Brooklyn. So Smith’s job is to make you forget Streisand’s Brice and reinvent the character to make it her own. And she does in her own way. She’s charming and lovely and can sure belt out a tune. Songs made extremely memorable by Streisand – ‘People’ and ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ – are sung by Smith, good enough for this production, but not very memorable. And we’re supposed to believe that the handsome, debonair, charming (and con man) Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell – perfect in the role) falls in love with her and not for her money. She’s so in love with him that she certainly can put up with his gambling habits and dubious investments. But even Brice can’t figure why he’s fallen for her, and neither can the audience.

Brice does find fame and fortune as a performer, with a proud Jewish mother (Marilyn Cutts) by her side all the way, living her dream by being employed by the great Florenz Zlegfield (Bruce Montague). But the crux of the show is the relationship between Brice and Arnstein, it’s a volatile one but not quite believable, and it’s a shame that the show isn’t more about Brice’s talent and less about the relationship. Smith is given her moments, and she gives it all she’s got, a bit over the top at times (her Brooklyn Jewish accent is a bit over exaggerated at times). There are no amazing sets, and no showstopping numbers as in most musicals. But great costumes and an excellent supporting cast, with classic musical numbers, makes ‘Funny Girl’ worth a look. It’s not a very memorable production but it’s clearly a star vehicle for Smith, and she makes it her own.

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16th Apr2016

Haram Iran (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_4171nAbove the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall presents a show about the murder of two young men in Iran

Two young men were publicly hanged in a square in Mashhad, Iran on 19th July 2005. The new play ‘Haram Iran’ tells this horrific story.

Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari were both teenage boys who liked to hang out together. But it was suspected that these two young men had a homosexual affair, though the true nature of their crime had never actually been confirmed. But they were publicly executed after being convicted on the trumped up charges of raping a 13-year old boy. The Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall has produced a play that re-enacts and tries to give credence and understanding to the story of these two young men, and their lives, and their execution. It’s an amazing and relevant play.

Ayaz (Viraj Juneja) and Mahmoud (Andrei Costin) play ball, study together and hang out at Ayaz’s house. They’re fast becoming good friends, enough so that it makes Fareed (Merch Husey) jealous. Mahmoud spends a lot of time at Ayaz’s house, in his bedroom, just hanging out. Ayaz is obsessed with books, books that his mother (Silvana Malmone) has illegally kept as she’s not allowed to have them because of Sharia law. Ayaz is most enraptured by The Catcher in the Rye, and he reads passages of the book to Mahmoud. Some of the passages are sexual, making the young men a bit turned on. One day Ayaz notices huge marks on Mahmoud’s back, caused by whippings inflicted on him by his father. Ayaz rubs oil on Mahmoud’s back, but it’s this act, witnessed by Fareed, which causes their downfall. Ayaz is initially charged with corrupting, and penetrating Mahmoud, is thrown in jail, and repeatedly raped by the prison guard (Fanos Xenofos). Eventually they are both charged with consensual homosexual acts and the judge (George Savvides) punishes them to death.

‘Haram Iran’ is a very important play that highlights the brutality and injustice that these two young innocent men endured in Iran. While not every scene in ‘Haram Iran’ might not actually have taken place, what is fact is the murder at the hands of the Iranian government of these two young men. Directed by Gene David Kirk with brutal and emotional intensity, ‘Haram Iran’ was written by Lawyer Jay Paul Deratany, who happened to find the story online. And each member of the cast are excellent. Juneja and Costin are both very believable as Ayez and Mahmoud, young and innocent but punished nonetheless. Maimone as Ayaz’s mother is superb in her role. Xenofos is very scary (and a bit too believable) as the prison guard who shows no mercy, while and Savvides is downright cold, mean and heartless as the judge. ‘Haram Iran’ is a brutal yet delicate story of two young men who didn’t deserve to die because of who they were.

Haram means forbidden by Islamic Law

To buy tickets, please visit:

Haram Iran

Haram Iran is playing until May 1st.

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06th Apr2016

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Theatre)

by timbaros

Sion-Dan-Young-Christopher-in-The-Curious-Incident-of-the-Dog-in-the-Night-Time-Photo-by-BrinkhoffMögenberg-2‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ is not your usual type of play.

First of all, look at the title – it’s a mouthful. If you knew nothing about what the play is all about, the title kind of sort of gives it away, but not really.
The show, based on the 2003 book of the same name by Mark Haddon, premiered at London’s National Theatre in August, 2013. It opened to more than rave reviews and won an incredible seven Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Play. The following year (2014), the play transferred to the West End, where’s it been playing to almost sold-out houses ever since. A production opened up on Broadway in 2014 and won a total of 17 theatre awards, including five Tony Awards. Just as the West End production, the Broadway production is still playing.

So what’s the fuss all about? As mentioned above, it’s not your usual type of play. There is not changing sets, no show tunes, no fancy costumes – it’s pretty much bare bones, what you see on stage is what you get. It’s about 15-year old Christopher Boone and an event that takes place that leads him to do some investigation work. He’s not just any typical 15-year old boy, he’s autistic and a mathematical genius. He’s so smart he can compute complex arithmetic calculations in his head. He’s not well equipped to interpret daily life, and he seem to be afraid of his own shadow. He doesn’t like to be touched by other people, and is suspicious of people around him.

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ tells it’s story through Boone’s eyes. The events his experience, and his experience alone. And the relationships with his father, mother, teacher and neighbors are all unique to themselves. And with the stage all done up in lights, it makes for a very surreal and sensational theatre experience. On the recent night I saw it, Sion Daniel Young had the uneviable job playing Boone. But he nails it. It’s a bravura knockout performance that matches and or surpasses anything seen in the West End, or Broadway for that matter. So go and see what the fuss is all about and why people keep on talking about this play. It’s run at London’s Gielgud Theatre has been extended until 29 October 2016 – so there’s no excuse.

To buy tickets, please click here:
http://www.curiousonstage.com/ticket-information/

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24th Mar2016

Miss Atomic Bomb (Theatre)

by timbaros
A scene from Miss Atomic Bomb @ St James Theatre (Opening 14-03-16) ©Tristram Kenton 02/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from Miss Atomic Bomb @ St James Theatre
(Opening 14-03-16)
©Tristram Kenton 02/16
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

It’s a bomb that goes off during the production of ‘Miss Atomic Bomb.’ It’s not an actual bomb but a stink and sink bomb.

Taking us back to 1950’s Las Vegas, when the city was in it’s infancy, the U.S. government had began nuclear testing in the Nevada desert, averaging one detonation every three weeks. During this time Las Vegas became a booming metropolis for gambling, sex, strippers, quickie marriages, and divorces, in part thanks to U.S. government employees earnings which found it’s way into the town’s casinos and the hotels, among other things. The city of Las Vegas became more popular than ever and proposition renamed itself ‘Atomic City, U.S.A.’ This attracted many tourists who would come to see the mushroom clouds. Pre-blast day all-night parties were held, and so-called Atomic cocktails were drank. So with this came the beauty contest named Miss Atomic Bomb.

The show ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ gives us the beauty pageant in the form of one woman’s struggle to save her dead grandmother’s trailer. Candy Johnson (Florence Andrews) lives in said trailer with Myrna Ranapapadophilou (Catherine Tate). But the bank tells Candy that her grandmother actually died with a debt, so the bank man wants to take the trailer to pay off the debt. So Myrna hears about a beauty contest in nearby Las Vegas where a Miss Atomic Bomb will be crowned. So they decide that this is where they will get the money to pay off the debt, with no doubt in their mind that Candy will win. But before all this takes place, she meets soldier Joey Lubowitz (Dean John-WIlson), who’s on the run because he left the army. Well, Joey escapes to his brother’s Lou Lubowitz (Simon Lipkin) hotel, a hotel where Lou is automatically made manager after the local mafia shoots dead the existing manager for not obeying them. Coincidentally enough, the same hotel is where the beauty pageant is going to take place. Throw in a few contestants (one who man dressed up as a woman), singing and dancing (worthy of a high school musical) in between scenes, and very poor choreography and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

The music and songs seem to be made for another musical, they just don’t gel with the story. And some of the dancers missed their mark the night I saw the show, plus some of the actors didn’t have proper American accents. Also, in one scene a manequin’s head falls off, and not on purpose, but it’s appears that the manequin couldn’t take it anymore. And star attraction Tate, who’s been criticized in the press for her American accent being a bit too Australian-ish, seems to glide in and out of scenes. She gets to show off more in the second half, but by then it’s took late and the predictable ending doesn’t come soon enough. Andrews as Candy can sing, however she’s way too talented for a show like this. This British production, written by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long, has too many jokes that fail, a script that’s not very good, and choreography that’s just plain awful.

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15th Mar2016

Land of our Fathers (Theatre)

by timbaros

CurlySix miners wait to be rescued in the brutal and powerful ‘Land of our Fathers.’

It’s 1979 in South Wales, in a dark and dirty mine where the men are trapped. And the six of them struggle with the brutal conditions, and each other, in this two hour play. There’s Mostyn (Joshua Price) who likes to sing show tunes but who also misses his mom; there’s brothers Curly (Tomos Eames) and soon-to-be dad Chewy (Taylor Jay-Davies); chief of the bunch Bomber (John Cording); Polish Hovis (Robert Jezek), and the old man of the bunch Chopper (Cornelius Booth). They don’t have much food among them, they need to ration carefully because they don’t know when they’re going to be rescued. But writer Chris Urch’s script delves deeper into their situation, we get to hear their hopes, and their fears, and see the terror in their faces when they realize that they might not get to see natural light again.

‘Land of our Fathers’ had it’s first run in 2013 in a 63-seat venue called Theatre 503 in Battersea. After being nominated for several awards and playing to sell-out audiences, it transferred to Trafalgar Studios in September 2013. Now it’s playing at the very intimate Found 111 Theatre on Charing Cross Road in Central London. It’s the perfect setting for a play with a minimalist claustrophobic set where the audience gets to see the actors up close. We can see their blood (literally), sweat, and tears as they struggle with their situation. And all the cast are excellent. The men open and close the show with the song ‘Land of our Fathers,’ – it’s the National Anthem of Wales, and it’s a fitting title for a show about Welsh miners.

You can buy tickets to ‘Land of our Fathers’ here:

http://found111.co.uk/land-of-our-fathers/

‘Land of our Fathers’ ends on Saturday March 19th.

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24th Feb2016

War of the Worlds (Theatre)

by timbaros
A scene from The War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne @ Dominion Theatre (Opening 17-02-16) ©Tristram Kenton 02/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from The War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne @ Dominion Theatre
(Opening 17-02-16)
©Tristram Kenton 02/16
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

London’s Dominion Theatre has been invaded by aliens causing massive destruction with people fleeing for their lives.

Well, on stage that is, not out on the streets. It’s the newest production of ‘War of the Worlds’, previously shown at the O2 in 2014 to much greater and better effect. In the smaller confines that is West End theatre, ‘War of the Worlds’ and it’s aliens, the village and the villagers are all munched together on the small stage. It’s presented as a multimedia experience with a good portion of the show on video screens hanging above and in the back of the stage. Also on the stage is the man himself, composer Jeff Wayne, with his very large 22 piece orchestra, split into two sections. And then we have our narrator – Liam Neeson – whose image pops up (or down in the case of his video screen coming down from rafters) every few minutes explaining to the audience what is happening.

Billed as ‘Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds,’ the show took close to 40 years to reach the West End, and we are graced with the presence Wayne conducting. It’s his music to the famous H.G. Wells dark victorian tale about earth being invaded by aliens that is the highlight of the show. So for two and one half hours, the audience is meant to be immersed, spellbound and scared of what’s taking place on stage, but they’re not.

What’s happening on stage is a mess. While Wayne and his orchestra are in excellent form, the narration, the story and the action do not live up to the hype. Neeson’s screen image goes up and down up and down so many times that it became very very annoying to a point dreading his next appearance. And his narration is a bit hard to understand and hear because of his accent with the noise and chaos taking place on stage. His job is to tell the story, but we can also see the story happening right before our very eyes. And it’s in front of our very eyes where we see the cast running aimlessly back and forth on stage, falling, getting back up, frightened by the aliens (on the video screens no less), and lots of flames. They, and us, are pummelled with flashing lights and high pitched sounds meant to hark the arrival of the aliens. Then an actual mechanical alien walks on to the stage, looking like an extremely large piece of shiny metal with legs – it’s not scary at all. It actually looks unrealistic and silly. And we don’t get to know the characters. David Essex is the star draw who plays The Voice of Humanity, while Daniel Beddingfield pops in to sing a nice song every now and then. But “The Way of the Worlds’ is a show that’s all over the place and I was very disappointed because I was expecting to be immersed, spellbound and scared. Unfortunately, I was none of them.

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25th Jan2016

Alright Bitches (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_7800nLet’s go on a trip to Gran Canaria via Above the Stag Theatre in their newly-penned play ‘Alright Bitches.’

It’s exactly what you would expect from a play with that name at a theatre which produces the campiest shows in town (written by Martin Blackburn). We’re in Gran Canaria, where the boys do their shopping, clubbing, picking up and shagging all in the same place – the Yumbo Centre. And not far from the Yumbo Centre is Los Hombres (The men). It’s a gay guesthouse but not primarily gay male and clothing optional. But for one week the guests at Loa Hombres include alcoholic and uptight Jason (Anton Tweedale), who’s not very happy to be there, and his young boy toy boyfriend Ollie (Grant Cartwright), as well as Garth (Ethan Chapples) and his best friend and flat mate Max (Lucas Livesey). Also along for the ride is Garth’s very good friend Pam (the fierce Hannah Vesty). And what do you get when you mix two horny gay couples with a women who’s also looking for it? Lots of sex jokes, and drama, and fights, and everything you would expect from a show such as this. You see Ollie is supposedly in love with Jason for who he is, and not because he’s a successful closeted banker. But Garth fancies Ollie, meanwhile there’s a bit of bad chemistry between Jason and Max, who’s has a towel that reads ‘Only Gay on the Beach’ – as if. But it’s Pam from Milton Keynes who provides all the laughs (“I’m menstrual and it’s a fool moon”), putting up with the boys antics while at the same time filling her mom in with her holiday antics and gossip on her mobile phone. There are lots of funny lines – “the barbed wire around the complex – is it to keep them out or us in?’ and in reference to Garth spending his time in some of the insalubrious places there, Max asks “Were you in the darkroom developing photos.?” To thicken the plot, there’s something strange about the man who is alone in his bungalow across the way – is he a serial killer? It all makes for a week full of tension and implied sex among the men at this guesthouse that, from the outside that we get to see that is the set, looks like any typical guesthouse in Gran Canaria. Enjoy the laughs and try not to groan when some of the jokes don’t hit, for it’s a holiday that you’ll probably forget. And give Vesty her own show – she’s fabulous!

To buy tickets, please go to:

http://www.abovethestag.com/whatson/alright-bitches/

‘Alright Bitches’ is on until Feb. 21, 2016

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21st Jan2016

Seasons of Larson – The Life and Times of Jonathan Larson

by timbaros

Seasons of Larson - Artwork ImageThe Life and Times of Jonathan Larson will be celebrated in the one-off show ‘Seasons of Love’.

Who is Jonathan Larson you might ask? He is the broadway composer and genius behind the smash hit musical ‘Rent.’ ‘Rent’ is one of the most successful and award-winning musicals of all time. It tells the story of a group of young men and women eecking out a living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. These young men and women have lots of real life issues that dominate their lives; poverty, drugs, volatile romances, and HIV.

Larson composed Rent while at the same time waiting tables at Manhattan’s famous Moonstruck Diner. On the first day of it’s off-Broadway 1996 preview, Larson died unexpectedly at the age of 35. It was a shocking blow not just to the people close to him, but also to the actors and the rest of the crew. The show then premiered as planned and went on to critical and commercial success. ‘Rent’ was moved to Broadway in April 1996 after an extreme demand for tickets and excellent reviews. It went on to win four Tony Awards, including three for Larson (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score). ‘Rent’ went on to become the 10th longest running show on Broadway, closing in June, 2008. Various productions have toured around the world, including three different productions in London. It also went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

It’s not just the story that is poignant and timely for it’s time, it’s the music that’s most memorable and emotional in telling the story of these young people struggling to survive. Songs such as Seasons of Love, One Song Glory, Light My Candle and Santa Fe all convey the emotion and heartbreak and feelings these young people have and share. And for only night only, on Monday, January 25th, at London’s Lyric Theatre, several West End performers will sing songs from the show. Debbie Kurup, Krysten Cummings and Damien Flood, all previous cast members of ‘Rent,’ will perform some of the songs and will reflect on their memories of the show. The concert will also include music from some of Larson’s earlier works, ‘Superbia’ and ‘tick, tick… BOOM!.’

For tickets to this one-off show, please visit:

http://www.seasonsoflarson.com

SEASONS OF LARSON – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JONATHAN LARSON

MONDAY 25 JANUARY 2016
THE LYRIC THEATRE, SHAFTESBURY AVENUE
images-418

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21st Dec2015

The Dazzle (Theatre)

by timbaros

The-Dazzle-at-FOUND111.-Joanna-Vanderham-Milly-David-Dawson-Homer-and-Andrew-Scott-Langley.-Photo-credit-Marc-Brenner-468-600x350A play about two brothers who need each other to coexist is the plot of the new play The Dazzle.

It’s the lead actor and the theatre itself that are the main attractions. Irish actor Andrew Scott is a huge film and television star who was most recently the character ‘C’ in the James Bond film ‘Spectre.’ He’s won awards for his performance in the 2014 film ‘Pride’ and is also known for his television work including playing Jim Moriarty in the hit television show ‘Sherlock,’ as well as for his numerous stage appearances. The theatre, Found111 theatre on Charing Cross, is in the old Foyles bookstore building that was most recently the home to sold out performances of the all volunteer show ‘You Me Bum Bum Train.’

‘The Dazzle’ is performed in one of the building’s upper rooms, which is reached after a dizzying climb of three floors. It’s a room that must’ve been used as book storage for the bookstore, as it seats only 130, so it’s theatre at it’s most intimate, with the stage just inches away from the first row. As for the show itself, it’s based on the true story of two brothers whose bodies were found amid 136 tons of clutter in a crumbling New York City townhouse in the 1940’s. Scott plays Langley Collyer, while David Dawson plays his brother Homer. Langley is a bit of an autistic savant – he’s a piano-playing genius but can’t seem to hold his own in life. He relies, depends and needs Homer to survive. Homer makes sure that Langley is taken care of and reminds him to clean himself. And unfortunately the brothers are on the verge of being broke, so Homer has to urge Langely to perform for money, even though Langley doesn’t want to. Homer, meanwhile, is a non-practicing lawyer who toddles around their cluttered living room with a piano in it’s center. The boys lives get turned around when Milly Ashmore (Joanna Vanderham) visits. She’s a rich heiress who is taken by Langley’s boyish charm and good looks. It’s soon enough that Homer sees an opportunity to marry Langley off to her to ensure their future. But the wedding doesn’t happen and it’s a catalyst that spins the brothers, and Milly’s, lives around, and not for the better.

‘The Dazzle,’ written by American Playwright Richard Greenberg, and directed by Simon Evans, is tricky to pull off because of the very intimate space. The actor’s every move, breathe, facial expression, and mistakes are captured finitely. But at times the actors seem to be overreaching a bit, putting on a show not just for the audience but for themselves as well. It’s all a bit overdramatic in parts where it doesn’t intend to be, and a bit unbelievable as the show plays out. The show does have quite a few witty lines (“we have a blind cleaner who comes in and spits on the furniture” Homer tells Milly when she asks why their apartment is so dirty and cluttered), but it won’t be winning any awards. The wow factor in this show is seeing Andrew Scott, a rising star, very up close and personal, and the theatre itself, which is true pop-up theatre.

The Dazzle is playing until January 30th – to buy tickets, please go here:

http://www.thedazzle.co.uk/buy-tickets/

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08th Dec2015

Tinderella: Cinders Slips it In (Theatre)

by timbaros

CVNt_JqWEAI7IREAbove the Stag theatre has done it again and produced another hilarious panto in ‘Tinderella: Cinders Slips it In.’

The theatre has produced many a camp panto in years past. These include ‘Dick Whittington: Another Dick in City Hall’ in 2009, ‘Sleeping Beauty: One Little Prick’ in 2011, and last year’s ‘Treasure Island: The Curse of the Pearl Necklace.’ But with ‘Tinderella: Cinders Slips it In’ the Stag has outcamped, and outdone, all it’s previous pantos. It’s as camp as christmas and as gay as eggnog. And it’s hilarious.

The title says it all. The show is a take off on Cinderella, and in the Stag’s version Prince Charming is searching the kingdom for a man (and NOT a woman) who fits into the glass slipper, in the kingdom of Slutvia. And that man is Cinders. He cooks and cleans and does the chores for his wicked evil stepmother Countess Volga and her two vile daughters Nicole Ferrari and Maude Escort. But then one day, while on a gay app on his mobile phone, he meets Prince Charming, and it is love at first sight for both of them. But Cinders’ phone gets ruined (I won’t say how!), and he’s unable to contact, or be contacted by, the very handsome young Prince. But there is a Fairy Godmother, in the form of The Fairy, and she’s the one who, with the help of the adorable Buttons, makes sure that Cinders gets to the ball to be reunited with Prince Charming, though the Prince’s father, King Ludwig, has no clue that his son is jonesing for another man. It’s all a laugh a minute when the show takes us from the Countesses kitchen to the King’s office to a courgette that gets turned into, funny enough, a mode of transport to which Cinders to the palace! We also are treated to songs about balls, a clever slow-motion scene that involves the entire cast, and enough campiness and cute boys to make even Alan Carr blush. And to top it off, we are spoiled with Slutvia’s Eurovision song!

CVYOHJoWUAA-160

What can one say about a show that has ok acting, ok singing, and an ok script? Well – it’s brilliant! You’ll be laughing from the opening scenes which include a giant rat, to the audience participation bits (there are quite a few and boy are they clever!), up to the final heartwarming and groin inflaming scenes. It’s a show that’s over two hours but it flies by. And the cast are perfect, from Joseph Lycett-Barnes as Prince Charming to Lucas Meredith as Buttons and Grant Cartwright as Cinders – everyone does their part, and they all act very well with each other! From the writers and director of total sell-out hits ‘Get Aladdin,’ ‘Jack Off the Beanstalk,’ and ‘Treasure Island – The Curse of the Pearl Necklace’ (Martin Hooper and Jon Bradfield) and directed by Andrew Beckett, Above the Stag has put on another memorable show.

Tinderella: Cinders Slips it In is playing until January 16th. Most performances are sold out but there are a few tickets left on various dates. To book, please go here:

http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/

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10th Nov2015

Elf (Theatre)

by timbaros

'Elf, The Musical' Performed at the Dominion Theatre, London UKThe musical adaptation of the hit 2003 film ‘Elf’ is an early Christmas treat for both adults and children alike.

If you’ve not seen the film, ‘Elf’ tells the story of how one young man ended up living in the North Pole with Santa Claus and all of his elves and what he does to find out where he’s really from.

Ben Forster is perfect as Buddy. You see, he was a young orphan child who had crawled into Santa’s bag of gifts on a Christmas Eve many years ago. He was transported to the North Pole where his poor toy-making abilities, and human size, makes him realize that Santa Claus is not his real father and he’s actually not an Elf as well. So Buddy, with the help of Santa, finds out who his real father is, and decides that it’s time to leave the safe confines of the North Pole and to discover where he really came from.

Arriving in New York, it’s all big buildings and lots of people, and Buddy is astonished and excited about this world he didn’t know existed. He wanders into Macy’s department store, all decorated for Christmas, which makes Buddy feel like he’s back in the North Pole. He’s mistaken for a store elf and is put to work decorating. There he meets Jovie (Kimberly Walsh), a store worker who Buddy takes a keen interest in. But his bubble gets burst when the store Santa is not the real Santa he left back in the North Pole.

Buddy then goes to his father’s office – a children’s book publishing company – right inside the Empire State Building. Buddy’s first encounter is with the funny and wonderful Deb (Jennie Dale), the company secretary. They hit it off like white on rice. But once he meets his father, Walter Hobbs (Joe McGann), it’s a bit of a letdown for Buddy as his father denies and doesn’t even want Buddy around. But one thing leads to another and Buddy spends the night at the Hobbs’ Central Park apartment with Mrs. Hobbs (Jessica Martin) and their young son Michael Hobbs (Ewan Rutherford on the night I saw it). Mrs. Hobbs has a test done to see if Walter is the true father of Buddy, and the test results turn out that indeed, yes, Walter is the father. Buddy is ecstatic, he finally knows where he came from, and also has a younger brother to boot. But not all is well in the Big Apple; Mr. Hobb’s publishing company needs to find a hit book fast before the CEO comes into town, while Jovie, even though she is pretty and bubbly, doesn’t want to spend another Christmas alone, and at the same time Santa’s sleigh is having a hard time flying through New York City because of all the doom and gloom and lack of Christmas cheer in the city. Leave it up to Buddy to find a solution for all three!

‘Elf’ is a musical delight. It’s in a perfect home, the very large Dominion Theatre at Tottenham Court road, a theatre that allows the show to have huge sets, including Santa’s North Pole workshop, complete with elves (played by adult actors on their knees with dangling fake legs – an optical illusion for the eyes), to Mr. Hobbs office – complete with the elevator, to Macy’s department store, both inside and outside, to the Hobb’s gorgeous living room, with a very large window facing Central Park, and finally taking us to the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center. The musical numbers are fun – with Buddy singing ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ while Mrs. Hobbs and Michael sing ‘I’ll Believe in You’ and then the cast sing ‘A Christmas Song.’ The first half is where most of the story takes place, and is longer. The second half neatly wraps up all of the drama from the first half.

It’s just the start of November and Christmas is less than 50 days away, so what better way to kick off the Christmas season than to make a visit to see ‘Elf?’ Take the kids, the in-laws, the neighbors – you will all thoroughly enjoy yourselves, and will marvel at the end how Santa and his sleigh rides over the audience. There’s not an ounce of coal in this show, and it will put you in the Christmas spirit.

Elf is playing until Jan. 2, 2016 – to get tickets please click here:

http://www.dominiontheatre.com/theatre/elf/

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09th Nov2015

Lovesong of the Electric Bear (Theatre)

by timbaros

_w_kIINyrk05qdvM9oQeNsgc_E-rrWF6pR0x6LwtCE0,At35341H8GxfRT4nit3Pi0Zu5kCAadcd9TsaN6zDqm8Alan Turing’s life is told, with the help of his teddy bear, in the new play ‘Lovesong of the Electric Bear.’

Yes, you read it right. It’s a teddy bear called Porgy (Bryan Pilkington in a teddy bear suit) who guides Turing (and the audience) through the events in his life. From his life as a young boy in France, where he was a bit different from the other boys, to his time in Bletchley, where he created his machine which broke the German code during World War 2. It’s a strange and unusual little show, currently playing in the small studio upstairs in the Arts Theatre on Great Newport Street, redesigned to look like a codebreakers bunker.

It’s a true story, written by the late Andrew Wilson. Turing evidently did have a teddy bear, and it’s the teddy bear in the opening sequence who awakens Turing from his deathbed and takes him through the journey of his life. It’s an incredible journey, a journey we all know very well from last year’s hit film ‘The Imitation Game,’ which starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. Not much new information on Turing is provided in this production, but it’s the viewpoint of the teddy bear giving advice and opinion on every move Turing which makes is interesting to say the least. And it’s quite funny, and surreal, especially when Turing (played stoically and confidently by Ian Hallard) starts ‘dating’ Joan (an excellent Laura Harling), and he takes her to meet his parents, but it’s always the bear who is in the background giving advise and musing about Turing’s wrong decisions. And it’s also the bear who advises Turing to get far away from the rent boy (Chris Levens, very good in all the roles he plays in this show) that eventually brought upon Turing’s downfall. And of course we all know how it ends, and that’s the sad part, there was nothing the bear could have done for Turing, in the play and in real life. Turing’s was a life cut too short, he was a man too far ahead of his time.

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02nd Oct2015

Roaring Trade (Theatre)

by timbaros

NMgZoQRGJ9tiiZwaNLpCZltKjyriaYFnRiA6aBOm8FQ,lnAEjCCJyhmp5iViodDpJoBk5Hk6mDkotQriYTcis84The strange world of bond trading and the lives of the traders who inhabit it is explored in the new play “Roaring Trade.”

There are four desks in an office in Canary Wharf where four unique personalities ply their trade day in and day out. Their goal, of course, is to make money. But not all of them do. Fortunes are made, and lost, in a single second. It’s a very stressful job, one that has direct effects on their families.

‘Roaring Trade’ is set on a bond trading floor of a fictional investment bank called ‘McSorleys.’ It introduces us to the four people who live and breathe their jobs. We’ve got beautiful blonde Jess (Lesley Harcourt), confident but not cocky. She’s got more balls than some of the men she works with, including Donny (Nick Moran), who’s putty in her hands, and is the cocky one. Then there’s PJ (Michael McKell), burnt out yet still slaves away at his job to appease his keeping up appearances wife Sandy (Melanie Gutteridge). Spoon (Timothy George) arrives as a new team member, very young, getting the job because his father is a fat cat in the City.

For these four, it’s all about the money, and the bonus that validates their performances. It’s what drives them to succeed, at any cost, and whether that puts another team member at risk, so be it. When newbie Spoon makes £3.6 million on a trade, he suddenly becomes the golden boy. And when it comes to bonus time, Donny is oh so curious as to how much Spoon has received, enough so to attempt to take a peak at Spoon’s bonus letter. But when PJ receives less than what he’s expecting (a luxury trip to Barbados is cancelled for a trip to Brussels), this means his wife Sandy will not get her new kitchen, and their seven bedroom house will have to be put up for sale. Sandy says she’s worried that they will be the target of gossip if they sell their house, though PJ says that she likes to be the center of good gossip when the money is coming in and she is spending.

Meanwhile, Donny instills his work ethic on to his son Sean (William Nye), teaching him how to make money using a sachet of ketchup as an example. He tells Sean that in the bond world, money can be made by selling something one doesn’t own, and making money off of it. It’s an example the son takes to heart.

But things get very tense on the trading floor when Donny is down £8.6 million on a trade, and it gets even more tense when PJ is offered a head trading role at fictional investment bank Shads, and he wants to take the rest of the team with him. But when one trade goes in a different direction than expected because of internet chat room gossip, it’s anyone’s guess whose going to be in the money and whose going to be out of the money. And it’s not who you would expect.

‘Roaring Trade’ takes the ‘bankers are wankers’ phrase and runs with it. Donny, the veteran, seems to just care about making money. Jess appears heartless but always in control, while Spoon the newbie is so green that he will take risks just to get ahead. We get a different message from PJ – that not all bankers are bad. While the acting is not bad (George is superb as the new kid on the block) and Harcourt nails it as the tough-as-nails Jess, Mckell’s acting is a bit over the top, and the character behaviour not quite believable. Originally written for the stage in 2009 and quickly updated to reflect today’s news (a line in the show is “bonds are dropping like VW”), ‘Roaring Trade’ has more of a yelp than a roar. And while our real banks have taken risks in the past and are paying heavily for it now, as Donny says in the play – ‘There’s risk in everything that matters.’

‘Roaring Trade’ is playing until 24 October 2015 at The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. To buy tickets, click here:
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/roaring-trade

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30th Sep2015

Kinky Boots (Theatre)

by timbaros

Prod_12It’s a huge hit on Broadway and it’s now finally opened in London. ‘Kinky Boots’ is in the house!

If the name rings a bell, it’s because ‘Kinky Boots’ was a 2005 film about a struggling shoe factory about to go out of business until they change their product line and start making boots that are sexy, and, literally, not worn by the everyday woman. The musical version of ‘Kinky Boots’ follows the same story, but it’s got a book by Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage Aux Folles – books he also wrote), music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper (‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’), and choreography by Jerry Mitchell (The Full Monty and Hairspray). That’s a lot of power and muscle behind a show, and it works, to a degree. (The show won six Tony Awards).

Killian Donnelly (the breakout star of The Commitments and co-star of Memphis) easily and comfortably plays Charlie Price, whose late father leaves him his shoe factory in Northhampton. It’s losing money, and Price might be forced to close it down, something that would make his London-bound fiancee Nicola (Amy Ross) happy. By chance, he comes to the aid of a drag queen who is being beaten up in a park. The Drag queen, Lola, played very ably and loudly by Matt Henry, is grateful to Price for saving him. But their meeting turns into a business relationship where Lola plants the idea into Price’s head to have his factory make Kinky Boots – boots for him and his fellow drag queens – boots that are big, flashy and preferably red! And eventually Lola gives up her life (and leaves her fellow drag queens) in London to go up north to help in the factory to lead in the design of some Kinky Boots. But he’s not too accepted in a town and factory where no drag queen has walked in heels before. Even though he’s dressed as a man, some of the other workers make fun of him, especially Don (Jamie Braughan), who challenges Lola to a boxing match. Of course, conflict and arguments take place between Price and Lola, and Lola decides that she’s had enough of the northerners and heads back down to London. Meanwhile, Price is being wooed by one his employees – Lauren (Amy Lennox – wonderful) But it’s bad timing as Price is about to show his latest models of shoes at a Milan fashion show – he’s got no Lola, no models, and tons of shoes that need to be worn.

And you can only guess what will happen next. To say this show is predictable is an understatement. While there are no surprises in the plot, it’s the music that raises the show up a notch or two. Lauper has injected her personality into songs that only she can write – when all the actors sing ‘Everybody Say Yeah’ – it’s a song that will stick in your head for the rest of the night – in a good way. And of course each actor has their own song moment – Donnelly sings his heart out in ‘Soul of a Man’ while Lola is given ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ – a song that highlights his very deep baritone voice in a soulful way (it sounds a bit like the song in Dreamgirls – ‘And I am Telling you I’m not Going.’ If there’s one person who steals the show it’s Lennox – she’s hysterical in the role of Price’s colleague who pines for him while he’s focused on keeping the business afloat. Production values are fine – the set morphs from factory to the fashion show. For me it’s the drag queens that make this show good – their sparkling clothing and sass and attitude and sequins are just right – for without them ‘Kinky Boots’ wouldn’t be so Kinky at all.

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