Reviewed by Charly Ralph
22nd January 2017
Reviewer Rating:★★★½

With book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard is the award winning musical that tells the tragic story of Norma Desmond.  From Hollywood starlet to lonely recluse, Sunset Boulevard reveals what became of silent movie star Norma Desmond after the arrival of the ‘talkies’.

Following her West End success as a standby to Glenn Close, Ria Jones reprises the role of Norma Desmond for the UK tour. Jones has a striking stage presence and performs the iconic ‘With One Look’ and ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ with gusto – to rapturous applause from the audience. However, watching the show for the first time, I missed a sense of vulnerability in Norma’s character that could have provided more depth to the dialogue in between the power ballad performances.

When introduced to Norma’s Hollywood mansion, it’s clear that Set and Costume Designer Colin Richmond has sought inspiration from the 1920’s, with the set emulating an almost Gatsby feel. However, this definitive nod to a classic may have been to the detriment of the production’s leading man.

Dougie Carter’s Joe Gillis takes on the role of narrator throughout the show, similar to Fitzgerald’s use of a narrator point of view. Although this works well, leading the audience through the story, a lack of energy makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between when Joe is present in the action and when he is retelling it for the benefit of the audience, especially in the first act.

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Carter, however, has a strong voice, providing the audience with a heartfelt rendition of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ at the start of the second act – and his duet ‘Too Much In Love To Care’ with Molly Lynch was for me, a show highlight.

Lynch gave a standout performance as Betty Schaefer, full of optimism and charm. The young Hollywood script reader embodies the hope of those working in the film industry who still believe all their dreams will come true. In complete contrast to Gillis, who is quickly filled with cynicism and bitterness, Schaefer is a welcome injection of whimsical energy on stage.

Another standout vocal performance was provided by Adam Pearce as the unnerving butler character Max. With an impressive vocal range, Pearce stunned the audience with a beautiful performance of ‘The Greatest Star Of All’.

The set was extensive and the grand staircase brought an element of Hollywood glamour to the stage, but sadly it suffered from a few clunky changes. There were also moments of darkness on stage, with performers left waiting for a spotlight, however this could be put down to first night technical cliches that will be rectified throughout the run.

For me, the star of Sunset Boulevard is the music. In this production, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score is brought to life by Musical Director Adrian Kirk – and his band do not disappoint. The music filled the theatre beautifully, without overpowering the cast.

This UK tour of Sunset Boulevard is filled with powerful, emotive songs, complemented by a strong vocal performance. Experience it now at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until Saturday 27th January.

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
4th December 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★

Currently playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, this is the first major revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White. Based on the 19th century mystery novel by Wilkie Collins, this dark gothic romance is told perfectly through this well written fiction novel. Telling the tale filled with secrets of a mystery fellow who preys on young girls, it’s filled with atmospheric moments, drama, and love.  Joined in the audience by Andrew himself, we were excited to see how the show would pan out in such a small intimate setting.

Walter Hartright (played by Ashley Stilburn) plays the role of an art tutor in a stately home in the country. Lived in by two unmarried sisters who both take fancy to young Walter, he begins to tell the tale of a young woman dressed in white whom he encountered on his way. Left with the mystery of trying to find out her identity he uncovers many secrets and betrayal along the way. Ashley plays Walter with passion and knows how to show the light and shade of his character. He has the audience with him throughout the whole piece, even if the other characters aren’t always on his side.

Chris Peluso plays crafty man Sir Percival Glyde. The true villain of the story who attempts to be a smooth-talking charmer to those around him. Accompanied by his Italian companion Count Fosco played by Greg Castiglioni, the pair are a troublesome deceiving twosome.  Greg plays the character with such charisma and charm that although his intentions are bad, you kind of love to hate him. He has the audience believing he is good for the most part before revealing his true self later on in the story.

Carolyn Maitland plays Marian Halcombe and for us, was a real stand out performer in this piece. Suffering with a nasty cold on the show’s opening night, she still managed to give a wonderfully powerful performance and her vocals were truly stunning throughout. She played her character incredibly well and really showed the different emotions that she was feeling along the way. Playing alongside Anna O’Bryne as Laura and Sophie Reeves as the ghostly figure Anne, the threesome performed Lloyd Webber’s score beautifully and each gave their characters such justice. An all round amazing performance by them all.

Thom Southerland’s staging although simple was incredibly effective and worked so well with the piece. The scene changes were slick and seamless and created the right atmosphere at all the right moments. Added by dark powerful lighting allowing each character to have their moment in the spotlight, it’s a wonderful use of the small space of the Charing Cross theatre stage.

The score was delivered beautifully by the orchestra and really excelled during the crucial/tense parts of the show. A wonderful blend of elements from the creatives and one that we believe made the show that much more thrilling to watch.

It’s a great piece to see if you’re looking for something different this Christmas. It plays at the Charing Cross Theatre until February 2018.

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Reviewed by Sophie Ross
5th November 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★★

After recently finishing her run as Glinda in the 10th Anniversary cast of Wicked, Suzie Mathers made her return to the West End on Sunday night. Performing at the Crazy Coqs located in the depths of Brasserie Zedel, this was her first solo cabaret show and too much delight, was completely sold out. Entertaining the ever so intimate audience with a variety of songs, plenty of charm and lots of laughter, it was a special evening to be apart of (and we’re sad if you missed it).

Opening the show with “Journey To The Past” from Anastasia, Suzie entered the room to applause and cheers from the audience. What is always so special with attending these types of shows, is that you get to see the performer as themselves. For us, Suzie really defines the term “leading lady” and talent oozes from her so naturally. She’s a shining example of everything a performer should be and knows how to captivate a crowd with total ease. Telling stories of past experiences and showcasing her incredibly versatile vocal range, Suzie put together a setlist of dreams featuring anything from pure musical theatre, opera and Justin Bieber.

No show would be complete without a little help from some special guests. Suzie’s first guest was her Girlfriend Laura Francis. Talking about the idea of what “home” meant to her after travelling around the world for so long, Mathers explained that home for her now, is a not a place but a person. The pair dueted to the song “Home” and it was really beautifully sung with so much joy/happiness coming from them both. It was lovely to see how comfortable they were on stage together and just in general, a really happy part of the show.

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Suzie performs with Laura © Danny Kaan / Anniek de Wild

Suzie’s second guest was West End leading lady Rachel Tucker. The pair shared the stage together in Wicked and have been great friends ever since and it’s something that you can really tell by watching them. In an industry that is so competitive and fickle, it’s refreshing to see two powerful women support each other and get on so well. They sang a re-worked version of “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Got Your Gun which had the audience fully engaged in laughter.

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Suzie performs with Rachel Tucker © Danny Kaan / Anniek de Wild

Her other song choices included a City of Stars mash-up, a beautiful song from Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen, a re-arranged version of Thank Goodness and many others that we weren’t expecting her hear her sing but made for a pleasant surprise.

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Our Editor Sophie with Suzie post show.

Ending the night with “What a wonderful world”, Mathers thanked the crowd, her guests and friends for being apart of such a magical evening. It really was such a charming evening and a great way to spend a Sunday night away from the hustle and bustle (see what we did there) of the outside world. We really hope that this is the first in many cabarets for Suzie. She’s a fantastic performer who has a great career still ahead of her. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

You can follow Suzie here
Let us know if you were at Suzie’s concert. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Photo credit: IG: @Danny_with_a_camera & @anniekdew | Twitter: @dannykaan & @anniekdew) and/or a link to the portfolio (www.dannykaan.nl).

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
18th October 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★

Since recently re-opening, the Tabard Theatre welcomes Tryst as it’s first in house production. Set in 1910 and based on a true story, the play written by Karoline leach, tells the tale of serial fraudster, George Love (played by Fred Perry) who encounters a naive and vulnerable shop-girl, Adelaide Pinchin (played by Natasha Barnes). This physiological thriller, runs for 90 minutes without the use of an interval and is carried as a two hander. The show first came to the West End 1997 opened on Broadway in 2006 and now is revived in London for the first time in twenty years. Set in a small and very intimate space, this dark and twisty tale will leave you on the edge of your seat.

After recently finishing as Fanny Brice both in the West End and on tour, Natasha Barnes steps into a role that is completely different from what you’ve seen her in before. Adelaide, a young milliner ultimately wants to better her life. She strives to be richer and to be loved by someone who wants to be with her for who she is. She meets George Love who she falls head over heals in love for. He knows what to say to her and how to make her feel wanted and special. As the play develops, you see the dark side in him and although mostly blind to his betrayal, Adelaide soon seems to release he isn’t who he initially said he was. Her character goes on a journey through both happiness and pain and that is as much of the story we can go into without giving away too much. The play ends with a shocking climax and having known nothing about it before attending, we weren’t expecting the outcome.

Although the storyline a little slow paced and at times felt like we weren’t going to get into the nitty gritty plot, Natasha and Fred work wonderfully together and play off what the other is giving.

Natasha gives a full 360 performance of showing the light and shade within what can only be described as an acting masterclass. Her vulnerability and ability to change the emotion she gives through her character is quite sublime. She’s a absolute powerhouse actor and her performance alone makes the play worth seeing.

Fred plays the part with ease, gaining much reaction from the audience. He plays the “villain” well and although his character is full of shade and dishonesty, at various points, you do feel a little sorry for is backstory. The pair work well as a duo and manage to keep the audience in the palm of their hands throughout.

It’s a tense show and works well in the set up that it’s in. The set is simple but effective and with the cast moving various pieces around for set changes, it’s done with such ease that you hardly notice it. The costumes (Megan Rarity) fit within the era and the lighting changes with the mood. As you leave the theatre, you are welcomed by facts displayed on the wall regarding to the real life events. Its a play that will leave you wanting to find out more and is worth a watch if you fancy something different.

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Tryst is booking until November 5th.

 

 

 

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Tuesday 26th September 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This week, the Addams Family UK Tour stops at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking and we took a trip to see the cooky clan in action. This comedy horror musical genre, tells the story of Wednesday Addams (Carrie Hope Fletcher) as she falls for “normal” boy Lucas Beineke (Oliver Ormson). Worried what her Mother Morticia (Samantha Womack) may think, she confides in her Father Gomez (Cameron Blakely) but with secrets come consequences. Featuring an absolute stellar soundtrack and from what we’ve heard, the show has gone from strength to strength since opening back in April, we were excited to be in the audience. Starting the show with a catchy song “When You’re An Addams”, its safe to say that the audience were hooked from the get go. With the all so famous Addams Family clicks and a sea of smiles on faces, we knew we were in for a great night.

The show features a great bill of performers, all of which play vital parts in what makes this company so strong. Carrie Hope Fletcher proves why she is one of the strongest and acclaimed performers as she puts on a powerful performance as troubled teen Wednesday. She has so much light and shade to her acting abilities and it shines through in this role. Her vocals captivate the audience and you can tell that she puts her heart and soul into every word that she sings.

Womack plays Morticia with sass and you’ll leave mesmersed by Blakely’s performance as Gomez – the pair making the perfect duo. They play the balance of a married couple with charm and truth and work incredibly well together. Their shining moment in Act 2 when they tango and quite honestly, it’s something very special.

Samantha Womack as Morticia Addams and Cameron Blakely as Gomez Addams (centre) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Credit Matt Martin (2)_edited-2.jpg

As well as seriousness, the show is filled with comedy from the other principles. Scott Paige inparticually caught our eye. Stepping into the role of Fester on the night that we attended, he played that character with ease. With incredible comedic timing, a brilliant vocal and just generally a whole bag of fun, we loved his performance and it was a joy to see his portrayal of the character.

The theme of acceptance runs throughout this piece and teaches us to embrace the differences we all have. The lyrics by Andrew Lippa fit the complexities of the story and fit the show perfectly. The book, by Rick Elice may not be the most original storyline to ever come to light but with a cast as good as they’ve got, the story becomes important and is very well put across to the audience. It really is a show filled with almost every emotion you can imagine but makes for a wonderful night out at the theatre.

To find a tour date near you, head to the website: https://www.theaddamsfamily.co.uk/tour/

You can check out our interview with Carrie here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di-omRBcmqQ&t=736s

 

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
31st July 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★

Last night, Dutch singer/actress Willemijn Verkaik took to the Cambridge Theatre stage for her highly anticipated one night only show. Normally the home of West End show Matilda, the room filled with avid theatre goers as well as dedicated fans who had travelled far and wide to see this leading lady in action. Most commonly known for her time playing the role of Elphaba (in three different languages, on the dutch/german tour and on both Broadway/West End), we were intrigued to see her stand as herself and perform both songs that she loves.

The evening started with a frozen mash-up sung by the “StageBox” children. Although the group were extremely talented and oozed with charisma, it was a rather strange way to open up the concert. Nevertheless, it was a fun way to get the energy up for the rest of the evening because if you don’t know “Let It Go” by now, where have you been hiding?

Photo Credit: Troy David Johnston

The setlist featured a mix of songs from Musical Theatre classics to country hits with even a George Michael medley thrown in there. It was great to see Willemijn sing songs that you wouldn’t expect her to sing and by having that variety, there was something that could appeal to everyone.

What we love best about attending one night only concerts, is seeing the performer as themselves and getting a feel of their personality. Willemijn’s quirkiness and somewhat awkward manor added with humour and a few sound mis-haps made you warm to her instantly. Her goofy/fun stage manor allowed the audience to laugh with her and feel engaged throughout. It’s no question that she is an incredible singer but it’s not until you are in an intimate setting like the Cambridge, where you can hear just how powerful her vocals are. She’s an absolute powerhouse of a performer and sang riff after riff so naturally. You can see why she’s known as one of the best Elphaba’s because with a vocal like that, it’s like being taken on a masterclass just by listening to her sing.

No concert would be a concert if it didn’t feature a few special guests and oh were there some fabulous ones. First up, Celinde Schoenmaker performing “I Dreamed a Dream” in which herself and Willemijn changed it up by singing a little in dutch. Their voices blended beautifully together and fun fact: Willemijn has auditioned for the Eponie in the past so this was her moment to absolutely give her all with that song. She was also joined by Tyrone Huntely, who’s vocals are so smooth/dreamy that you could listen to him sing all day long. And finally she was joined by her two Glindas, Savannah Stevenson and Suzie Mathers in which the trio sung a beautifully arranged Wicked medley, completely acapella. What was great about seeing the three of them perform together, was seeing the love that they genuinely have for each other. It’s so empowering to see three strong female’s supporting each other and sharing a true friendship.

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What surprised us the most about the evening was Willemijn’s songwriting skills. Singing a range of her own music, all of which sounded absolutely brilliant, the talent that this woman has is off the scale.

There’s no doubt that Willemijn is an incredible performer and we’re happy we were able to witness the magic of her one night only show. Finishing the evening with No Good Deed smoothly transitioning into Defying Gravity, it made for a perfect ending. We’d love to see her do more in the West End in the future.

Reviewed by Charly Ralph

“Grease is still the one audiences want”   ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The classic story of boy meets girl, set in Rydell High School, is back on tour this summer!
Although starting its life as a Broadway musical in 1971, it wasn’t until the global success of the 1978 film that Danny, Sandy and the gang became a beloved part of popular culture. And judging by the crowds of people at the theatre, both the characters and the story still resonate with people today.

Having won the hearts of the British public back in 2010 winning the BBC’s Over the Rainbow series, Danielle Hope was the perfect choice for Sandy. Her innocence and charm, coupled with the dulcet tones of a seasoned leading lady made for a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
Playing opposite Danielle, as heart-throb Danny Zuko is Tom Parker. 1/5 of boyband The Wanted, Grease is Tom’s theatrical debut and sadly his lack of experience began to show over the course of the performance with stilted dialogue not quite expressing the effortless aura of cool the role requires.

However, his energy and enthusiasm didn’t falter and he seemed to thrive alongside his loyal T-Birds in the Greased Lightnin’ number.
As Danny’s charismatic friends Kenickie (Tom Senior), Sonny (Michael Cortez), Doody (Ryan Heenan) and Roger (Oliver Jacobson) had a natural rapport with one another, working well as a group as they moved from one mischievous antic to the next.

Unfortunately the Pink Ladies, did not create the same level of fun and friendship. As leader, Rizzo is a much loved character, despite her hard faced character and often cutting wit. However, Louisa Lytton’s lacklustre performance failed to capture her endearing qualities, especially during the poignant There Are Worse Things I Could Do, and faded into the background in the group numbers.

The standout performance for the girls was definitely Rosanna Harris’ Jan. Labelled as ‘the funny one’, she did not disappoint. Her comedic delivery was brilliant, enhanced further when working alongside Oliver Jacobson’s Roger, and their powerful vocals made an often-overlooked Mooning memorable.

Terry Parsons’ set was basic but effective with era appropriate backdrops including the iconic school bleachers. Another must for this show is Greased Lightnin’ herself. Moving on and off the stage with ease, the car’s transformation provided the perfect backdrop for the boys’ fantasy sequence.
Key to Grease’s sustained success is its music; from one catchy number to another, both the songs and legendary dance moves continue to enthuse generation after generation. This ensemble embodied the uplifting essence of the show, performing slick, dynamic choreography with boundless energy whilst staying true to the rock and roll era.


Throughout the evening the atmosphere in the theatre was a combination of enthusiasm and enjoyment and if you’re looking for a night of entertainment.. Grease is most definitely still the word!