Review: Sister Act (New Victoria Theatre, Woking)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Monday 20th March 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Sister Act is back and better than ever. Directed by Craig Revel Horwood, it tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer played by XFactor winner Alexandra Burke. When becoming a witness to a murder committed by her lover, she is forced to hide away in a convent for her safety. Faced with the challenges of adjusting to a new life, she is confronted with the reality what it means to have true friends. It’s the story of positivity, love and turning a bad situation into something wonderful.

SISTER ACT. Alexandra Burke as 'Deloris Van Cartier'. Photo by Tristram Kenton

Having made her theatre debut in the Bodyguard in 2014, Alexandra is back and once again taking centre stage. Her comedic timing is on point and her vocal is both effortless and beautiful. It’s great to see her take on another lead role and she does so with such power, sass and ease. Supported by a wonderful cast of actor-musicians, she is joined by Karan Mann as Sister Superior who brings both charm and wit to the role and makes a great onstage paring with Alex. The two bounce of each other’s energy as Deloris attempts to loosen up the stubbornness in the Sisters persona.

Joe Vetch plays police officer Eddie with charm and goofiness. He’s the guy that you root for from start to end and it’s great to see his character develop as the storyline unfolds. One of the stand out performances for us was from Susannah Van Den Berg in the role of Sister Mary Patrick. Her humour, warmth and personality shines through as she plays the over enthusiastic nun who see’s the best out of every situation.

SISTER ACT. Company. Photo by Tristram Kenton.jpg

It’s a show that will leave you feeling good and wishing you were apart of their convent. The score is catchy and has that soulful gospel vibe that you can’t help but smile at. Although the set is very minimalistic, it creates a realistic setting of what you would expect from the inside of the church.

Sister Act runs at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until March 25th before continuing around the UK. Tickets and details can be found here: http://sisteractuktour.co.uk/

SISTER ACT. Alexanda Burke as 'Deloris Van Cartier' and Ensemble. Photo by Tristram Kenton.jpg

Review: Wonderland (Churchill Theatre)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
March 13th 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★

Last night, Wonderland opened at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre with a cast filled with West End superstars. Making it’s UK and European premiere, the Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy American musical, has been touring the UK since January. Previously playing to a few venues in both America and Tokyo, the show certainly isn’t a worldwide phenomenon but we always like to go in with open eyes.

 

The story follows Alice, not as you thought you knew her, this time she’s a single mother living on an estate verging on 40. She receives a letter informing her that her ex-husband is getting remarried and in the mist of it all, she gets fired from her job. A white rabbit suddenly appears out of the blue and her daughter, Ellie decides to follow him down the rabbit hole (or the building elevator in this instance). Joined by their neighbour Jack, they end up in Wonderland greeted by the regular characters from Carroll’s original tale.

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Review: Evita (New Wimbledon Theatre)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
21st February 2016
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Last night, the Evita UK tour made a stop at the New Wimbledon Theatre. With a jam packed audience full of different generations, we were intrigued to see how this touring production would come to life. The show tells the story of Eva Duarate Peron’s rise to stardom leading up to her tragic death at the young age of 33. Raised in poverty, the show explores the journey of this ambitious teenage girl as she transforms into a stage/radio star, eventually marrying military leader Juan Peron, making her the countries first lady.

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Emma Hatton stars as Eva Peron (Pamela Raith Photography)

It’s clear to see Tim Rice’s influences through the piece as the score is irresistible and has a real traditional feel. With a completely sung through structure, Evita is heavily influence by an operatic rock tone with “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” being the stand out moment.

After just finishing as Elphaba in the West End, leading lady Emma Hatton puts on a fantastic performance in which you can’t fault her vocal ability. She sings the songs with ease and manages to balance the different characteristics of Eva with confidence and ambition. Gian Marco Shiaretti makes his UK stage debut and oozes confidence as he plays the key role of Che, narrating the show as provocateur-in-chef. Kevin Stephen-Jones has a wonderful operatic tone and he plays Peron with power and stability.

Although it’s a timeless classic and based upon a true story, this current production does have a sense of being very dated and if you’re not familiar with the story, we would recommend doing research before you attend. The show has a very niche audience and won’t be for everyone but if you’re a fan of that era then we’d recommend going to see it.

Tickets and information: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/evita/

Not Dead Enough (New Victoria Theatre, Woking)

Reviewed by Charly Ralph
February 6th 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★

Not Dead Enough was the third novel in Peter James’ award winning Roy Grace series and is now the third play in his box office smash hit and critically acclaimed stage franchise, following the successes of The Perfect Murder and Dead Simple

It tells the story of Brian Bishop, a businessman whose wife has been murdered in their Brighton home whilst he was away in London. Well, that’s what he tells Detective Superintendent Roy Grace who is leading the case, as a family story shrouded in secrecy begins to unravel.

Not Dead Enough.  Photo by Mark Douet _31B9675_600.jpg

Returning to the work of Peter James, Shane Ritchie is both confident and charming in the role of DS Roy Grace and leads the cast well as the novel is brought to life onstage. The script combines drama, suspense and a touch of comedy, however the dialogue initially felt a bit stilted and it appeared to take a while for the actors to relax into the performance.

Michael Holt’s set was cleverly designed and enabled the actors to alter the pace of the performance when required. With the interview room and the mortuary both visible to the audience, multiple conversations and action sequences can take placewithout significant pause, propelling the storyline forward and heightening the element of suspense which is crucial to a crime drama.

Without wanting to give too much away, Stephen Billington provides a spectrum of characteristics throughout his portrayal of the complex Brian Bishop, enhancing the audience’s uncertainty regarding the outcome of the story. In her professional theatrical debut, Laura Whitmore gave a committed performance as Cleo Morley and held her own within an endearing onstage partnership with Shane Ritchie.

Not Dead Enough had all the elements of a traditional ‘whodunnit’ story, with many twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. Sadly as the show reached its climax, the reveal of the guilty party fell somewhat flat on stage and I couldn’t help but feel that the audience left wanting more from its conclusion.

Not Dead Enough will be showing at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until Saturday 11th February before continuing on its UK Tour. Shane Richie will play the role of Roy Grace until 15 April 2017.