Reviewed by Sophie Ross
27th February 2018 
Reviewer Rating:★★★★

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has been wowing audiences around the UK and Ireland since September. This week, it made a stop at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking and we went along to check it out.

Beautiful tells the story of singer/songwriter Carole King and her journey to stardom. Through her relationship with Husband Gerry Goffin and friendships with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, it gives you a real insight into her rise to the top and how she turned her dream into a reality by believing in herself.

Bronte Barbe takes on the lead role as Carole King, showing vulnerability, strength and passion. Her vocal is beautiful and her real time to shine was during “Natural Woman”, where she really let loose and gave every emotion imaginable. Embodying the role of Carole with ease, she gives an all-round amazing performance.

Kane Olivier Parry plays Gerry Goffin and for us, the standout performance of the show playing the role so perfectly. With an incredible vocal, he gives the character both light and shade with just the right amount of swagger. Through his performance you can really understand the trials, tribulations and mental health issues that Goffin was going through at the time and he really plays it so well.

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Matthew Gonsalves and Amy Ellen Richardson play songwriter duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, friends of Carole and Gerry. The pair click so well together and make the relationship between themselves so believable. Both were a joy to watch on stage and brought joy to their characters. With their comedic timing on point, brilliant vocals and a juxtaposition to the other leads, it was great to watch and learn about the incredible career they had.

The show will have you bopping along in your seat with so many classic songs that you’d be surprised to find out were written by Carole King. Songs like Take Good Care of My Baby, I’m into Something Good and the classic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. The choreography is slick and true to it’s time, the set of a West End standard and an ensemble filled with uber talented people, all of which deserve individual shoutouts.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical plays at the New Victoria,
Woking until March 3rd.

 

 

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
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 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!

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.

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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

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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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/