Reviewed by Emily March
29th October 2019
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★

9to5 the Musical, based on the 80’s movie starring Dolly Parton burst into the Wales Millennium Centre last night. With it’s colourful set, shocking storyline and larger than life characters, I was intrigued to see how the show was transfer to the stage.

The cast was lead by three talented women; Caroline Sheen, Amber Davies and Georgina Castle, who played Violet, Judy and Doralee respectively. Each actress brought so much heart and humour to their character and it was great to see three female leads. Their onstage chemistry was genuine and believable which made their performance a joy to watch. Their voices, all strong, blended together beautifully to make for a perfect trio of leading ladies.

Amber Davies particularly stood out to me. Her acting was superb and she really portrayed that naive character with a flare of Glee’s Rachel Berry very well. She eventually found her feet in the eleven o’clock number, Get Out and Stay Out with impressive vocals and totally moving performance. She was truly  fantastic throughout.

The bright set was impressive with a giant 9to5 logo taking centre stage and being reintroduced at various moments of the show. The clock faced doubled as a video screen which featured narration from Dolly Parton herself.

This was a nice touch to the show and helped explain certain moments in more detail. I also loved the use of rolling desks in the show and the computer screens that made up the proscenium arch.

The music in this show is brilliant, reflecting Dolly’s bold brightness in its catchy tunes. However, the newer addition of Hey Boss, which replaced a whole series of fantastic songs from the original Broadway production, felt pointless and slightly weak. I struggled to understand the lyrics of the song, which wasn’t helped by the poor sound levels. I’d be interested to know why this decision was made for the West End/Tour version.

Similarly, Franklin Hart’s second song, Always A Woman, was boring and time consuming, and was unnecessary to the plot. This was no reflection on the actors who were great but more so on the show’s writers. The choreography was innovative but I didn’t feel the ensemble utilised it enough as it sometimes felt a little weak, but their acting really shone.

This review is not complete without a shoutout to the outstanding portrayal of Roz Keith by the hilarious Lucinda Lawrence. BRAVO.

Overall, this is a fantastic production that had me laughing out loud with its tongue-in-cheek humour and relevant storyline. A fantastic night out at the theatre, but definitely for adults only!

Reviewed by Emily March
21st October 2019
Reviewer Rating:★★★★

On Your Feet is currently sweeping the nation on its UK tour and this week, it’s Cardiffs turn. After seeing the show in London over the summer, I knew I would have to make a return visit to see this fierce, high-energy show. Although I went in knowing that is it is not a theatrical masterpiece by any means, I was excited once again for the incredible music, superb dancing and inspirational storyline. This touring production did not disappoint and once again, the rhythm got me good.

Philippa Stefani shines as Gloria. Her effortless vocals soar, her acting is captivating and natural and quite honestly, a true star is born in this role. What stood out to me most was her rendition of the emotional ‘Coming Out Of The Dark’, showing the soul and versatility in her voice. Stefani’s performance was one to remember.

Madalena Alberto was another stand out with her portrayal of Gloria’s bitter mother. Her shining moment ‘Mi Tierra’ was filled with passion and proved that Alberto is a seasoned professional with a stunning voice and moves to match.

ON YOUR FEET. Philippa Stefani 'Gloria Estefan' and Company. Photo Johan Persson (3).jpg

At Monday’s performance, Consuelo was understudied by Laura Friedrich Tejero who acted well beyond her years and made the audience fall in love with her in seconds. She brought both heart and humour to the role. George Ioannides is a fantastic Emilio, with both his sexy confidence and natural talent. He was supported by a fantastic ensemble of passionate performers who danced the authentic choreography with so much strength and energy.

The production was exactly how I remember it from London, however one key component that was lack of child actors that the previous production was lucky to have. Understandably touring with children has it’s restrictions/difficulties but they bring another dimension to the piece, and add the cute factor that the audiences love.

Some classic musical theatre moments where the characters burst into song felt a little awkward at times, even provoking some giggles from the audience because of how cheesy they were. Although these songs were sung beautifully, they broke the realism and weren’t a necessary part of the story telling. Despite that, the majority of the evening felt like a real Gloria Estefan concert.

My favourite moment was, of course, Conga, which got the audience up dancing in the aisles at the end of Act 1. I didn’t stop smiling. I also loved how the talented band were showcased on the stage. The loud music and bright lights set the scene and brought us right into the story. We were treated to a spellbinding mega-mix at the end of the show that got everyone quite literally on their feet and all round it was a super fun night.

The story of Gloria and Emilio is truly inspiring and their fierce approach to the music industry is incredible, and many elements of their story are totally relevant today. I would highly recommend seeing this show if you get the chance.

ON YOUR FEET. Philippa Stefani 'Gloria Estefan' and Company. Photo Johan Persson.jpg

On Your Feet plays at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 26th October.
TICKETS:  https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/on-your-feet/

Reviewed by Emily March
14th October 2019
Reviewer Rating: ★★★

Grease bounced into the Wales Millennium Centre last night with a lot of energy, sass and a reimagining of the much loved classic. I was really pleased by Arlene Phillips’ exciting, fast paced choreography throughout the show that was demonstrated incredibly by the talent cast of dancers. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic dance moves of the male cast during audience-favourite Greased Lightening. The choreography was different to your average production of Grease, which kept it fresh. I was constantly excited by the choreography and was left excited for the next number to begin.

Martha Kirby makes a strong professional debut as the leading lady, bringing a little more sass and confidence than we normally expect from Sandy. Perhaps this acting choice represents a more modern portrayal of the character, standing up for herself and being empowered. It changed the meaning of the ending for me, which normally frustrates me due to Sandy changing herself to please a man, however lyrics from You’re The One That I Want such as “you better shape up, because I need a man” stood out to me, as I never really recognised it as a moment where Sandy takes charge and tells Danny that he need to be better to suit her, rather than her being better to suit him. I did feel as through Kirby over-sung a lot of her songs, and even though her voice was impressive, some more tenderness and reflective moments would’ve enhanced the storytelling.

Rhianne-Louise McClausky shines as the sassy Rizzo, with her strong stage presence from the moment we meet her on stage. Her moving rendition of There Are Worst Things I Could Do was a shining moment.

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Some more stand out moments during the show was Mooning, which demonstrated the sweet chemistry, impressive vocals and comedic timing of Ryan Anderson (Roger) and Natalie Woods (Jan). Beauty School Dropout is a favourite of mine, and this rendition did not disappoint. Darren Bennett brought charisma as Teen Angel, and the memorable dream sequence was highly amusing.

Natalie Woods, Jessica Croll and Eloise Davies who played Jan, Patty Simcox and Frenchie respectively each brought their own spark to the stage, bringing both funny and tender moments throughout the show. They were able to stay true to the original characters that we know, but bring something unique too.

The male cast however, only had one stand out for me which was Damian Buhagiar as Sonny. His stereotypical New York Italian portrayal added a lot of humour and energy to the longer, more tedious scenes which left us begging for a musical interlude.

As ever with Grease, it is hard not to compare performances to the original portrayals that we know and love. Even with the modern spin, Grease feels a little tired and over done, but the cast should be praised for their energy and modern interpretation, as well as the stand out choreography. If you’re looking for a fun night at the theatre with a spot of nostalgia, then absolutely go to see Grease. The cast’s passion was infectious and I left itching to return to performing.

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.

beautiful-image-640x512.jpg

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.

Sunset Boulevard - Ria Jones 3

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!