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:


04th Oct2014

Evita – Theatre

by timbaros

images-264The Dominion Theatre in London’s West End was home to We Will Rock You for what seems like an eternity. And the statue of Freddie Mercury was a permanent fixture on Tottenham Court Road. Well, Freddie and We Will Rock You have since left, now to be replaced by a much much better show – Evita.

Evita is a show that is the complete opposite of We Will Rock You. We Will Rock You was loud, Evita is elegant; We Will Rock You was stupid, Evita is smart; and We Will Rock You was awful, Evita is excellent. No two shows could be any more different. And it’s a shock to think that We Will Rock You lasted 12 years while Evita will run for only 7 weeks – until November 1st (White Christmas takes up residence at The Dominion after Evita closes).

Evita has been shown in the West End twice before. It debuted in 1978 (with Elaine Paige) and then returned to the West End in 2006. I did not see the 1976 version but was lucky enough to see Elena Rogers perform as Evita in the 2006 version. But this version of Evita is so much better than the 2006 version. What makes this version of Evita so good? Well, where do I start; first and foremost the acting, then the singing, the costumes, the set design, the music, the score, basically from start to finish Evita is a show.

Portuguese Madalena Alberto is a revelation as Evita, She cannot only sing, she can act and perform as well. Sure, she may be tiny (at 5’6) but when she sings, she sings. And when she acts, she can act. Alberto, who made her stage debut in 2005 at the Old Vic in Aladdin with Sir Ian McKellen, proves that she’s now a West End diva to proudly stand alongside the rest of them.

Evita is a classic production from the minds of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s a story that most of us are familiar with – the short life of Argentina’s most loved woman – Eva Peron. Evita the musical takes us through her life – from her time as a young model to when she met her future husband – Juan Peron – in 1944 when he was a Colonel. Two years later he becomes president of the country, and Eva becomes a much loved first lady. But this Evita the musical starts on a somber note – it starts with Evita’s casket in the middle of the stage, people walking by paying their last respects, with a huge photo of her on top. It’s a chilling way to start a musical but it’s very effective and sets the tone for what to expect at the end. Alberto, as Evita, becomes, right before our very eyes, a queen, wearing breathtaking dresses and jewelry, beautiful. And Alberto is given many chances to display her voice, especially in the ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ solo, she owns it and brings the house down. Wow. And it’s a sad day as she gets sicker and sicker, again, right before our very eyes, to the point of death. Alberto’s image as Evita will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

Marti Pellow is the narrator Che, who reflects the voice of the Argentine people. He does an excellent job throughout, always there but never in the scene. He’s also been given many a solo, and in one he’s especially good at he is holding a note for the longest time – it’s actually amazing.

Ben Foster is just as good in his short role as tango singer Magaldi – the man who was Eva Peron’s first love, and the man who supposedly brought her to Buenos Aires. He’s got a great voice – too bad Evita throws him away like a bad penny before the end of the first half – and he’s gone.

Everything about this production is lush. From the music to the aforementioned costumes, to the Argentinean-styled sets to the choreography, it’s all very sumptuous. And all the other favorites are sung: ‘On This Night of a Thousand Stars’ to ‘You Must Love Me.’ While there are a few moments that left me scratching my head ( a scene with dancers holding mirrors made no sense, and one of Alberto’s big numbers segues into another number, thus robbing her of the applause), it’s a production that has to be seen. And I am very happy that Evita got We Will Rock You kicked out of the Dominion.