Review: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Duke Of York)

Reviewed by Ksenya Gray
16th May 2017
Reviewer Rating: ★★★★★

Crude, ambitious and exactly what the West End needs right now.

After a sell-out run at the National Theatre, this Olivier award-winning production of ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’ has finally transferred to the heart of the West End and resides in the Duke of York Theatre.

Caroline Deyga (Chell), Kirsty MacLaren (Manda), Isis Hainsworth (Orla), Frances Mayli McCann (Kylah), Dawn Sievewright (Fionnula) and Karen Fishwick (Kay). Photo credit Manuel Harlan.jpg
Our six heroines of the tale are Catholic schoolgirls on their way to a choir competition in the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. Ahead of the competition, they go out on an all-night bender through which we learn about each of their backgrounds and plans for the future. Pop songs, choral pieces, and playground humour is the vehicle for their storytelling.
Although the set is minimal, Vicky Featherstone has created an immersive and impactful production, simply allowing the stories of these six women to be told without being overshadowed by too many props or moving pieces. Quite a few audience members got to a part of the action with seats available right on the stage, which most of the play is various clubs throughout the evening.
The cast – many who originated the roles in the National Theatre production – are a powerhouse ensemble. Even through the extreme profanity, the heart of Lee Hall’s piece is never lost. There are particular standouts from the six ladies, including Dawm Sievewright as Fionnula and Isis Hainsworth as Orla.

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Alice Fearn: Just Me & A Piano

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Reviewer rating: ★★★★★

Currently starring as Standby Elphaba in Wicked, Alice Fearn took to the stage last night at the Crazy Coqs for her second cabaret style show. Accompanied by MD Nick Barstow she performed in front of an ever so intimate yet jam-packed audience filled with fans, friends and family. It was everything you’d want from a show of it’s type, all rolled into one (and was NOT to be missed).

It was great to see Alice shine up on stage as herself as standby’s don’t often get the recognition they deserve. From the first note, she had the audience in the palm of her hand and it was a real joy to watch. For us, Alice is the epitome of the word “talent”. Her vocals are second to none and she has such a warming down to earth personality that makes her instantly likeable. She joked with the audience that she’d have to look at the setlist to remind herself of the running order and forgot to dedicate a love song to her fiancé, all of which added to her charm and wit. She connected to the crowd with such ease, commanding the stage as the leading lady that she is.

The theme of the evening was taking well known songs but performing them with a different arrangement to what you may be used to hearing. What was great about the show was the variety. It was a real mix up from classic Disney to fabulous divas such as Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion. Alice sang a funny yet sweet song to declare her love for her oh so talented MD and you could tell that being on stage is where she belongs.

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If her brilliant vocals weren’t enough, she was joined on stage by three stagey guests, Adrian Hansel, Lara Denning and Oliver Saville. It’s always great to see performers stripped back away from their shows. Performing a slowed down version of Defying Gravity, tIMG_7790aken from the #OutOfOz video series, Saville and Fearn sounded absolutely fabulous together. A real treat for any Wicked fan.

Ending the evening with “The Big Finish”, followed by an encore in which Alice took to the piano to sing “Being Alive” and applauded out by a full standing ovation, it was a fun and special night to be apart of. Alice is a star and you can tell she has a wonderful career ahead of her. Let’s hope that includes more one night only cabarets (and a second album!).

You can download her album from here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/where-ive-been…-where-im/id1158246055

To catch her as Elphaba, check the website for holiday dates www.wickedthemusical.co.uk

 

Our top picks at Zédel this season ★

The Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel is one of the hottest and most intimate venues in town. Seating just 80 people, it’s the perfect place to be up close and personal with your favourite stars. Here are our top picks/must see shows at Live at Zédel this season…

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Alice Fearn – May 14th 2017
Currently Wicked’s standby Elphaba, Alice Fearn is one to keep an eye on. With a warming personality, a down to earth attitude and an incredible vocal, you’d be silly to not snap up a ticket to her show this Sunday. After bringing out her first EP titled “Where I’ve Been…Where I’m Going” last year, you can tell she’s a natural when it comes to performing. In our eyes, she’s a star and is destined for big things. Don’t miss out! Grab a ticket now: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/alice-fearn-just-me-and-a-piano

 

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Tyrone Huntley – June 4th 2017
Currently starring in Dream Girls as CC White, Tyrone’s theatre credits are pretty impressive. For a man still in his twenties, he’s taken the West End by storm and continues to go from strength to strength. With one of the smoothest, most soulful voices we’ve heard and a charming persona, it’s a evening not to be missed. Grab a ticket now: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/tyrone-huntley 

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Rachel Tucker – June 5,6,7 2017
Following her sold out four day stint back in March, Rachel Tucker is back and better than ever. With her powerful vocal and welcoming personality, it promises to be a show filled fun, laughter and full of surprise. This leading lady pulls out all of the stops and will have you in the palm of her hand. Tickets are selling super fast for this one so grab a ticket whilst you still can: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/rachel-tucker-live-in-concert/82585262

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Kerry Ellis – August 25, 26, 27

This leading lady has not stopped for the past year. After staring in Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre, she is now on tour with the cast of Wonderland. Considered West End royalty, it would almost be a crime if you didn’t buy a ticket. You can expect an evening of real variety from rock to MT classics all belted through her powerhouse vocals. Grab a ticket: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/kerry-ellis

For more information and to view other shows click here: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/programme

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Full line-up confirmed for Giggin4Good’s SONGS4SOI Concert at The Actors’ Church, Covent Garden

 

On Sunday May 28th, Giggin4Good is set to hold it’s tenth charity concert Songs4Soi. Taking place at the Actors’ Church in the heart of Covent Garden. The show, hosted by Benjamin-Vivian Jones and features a line-up of West End alumni including James Gillan (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Wicked) Savannah Stevenson (Wicked) and Emma Williams (Half A Sixpence, Mrs Henderson Presents).

Founded back in 2011, Giggin4Good is ran by a group of children’s nannies Hayley Guild, Karen Howe and Emma Howe. The purpose, to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s hospital by putting on various concerts featuring West End stars. This has proven a real success and continues to go from strength to strength. Songs4Soi is the charities latest project produced by the trio with the help of Jordan Langford and Nathan Lodge and will raise money for the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket, Thailand. After visiting the foundation in February, both Jordan and Nathan were touched by the amazing work and efforts of the organisation and therefore began plans to produce a concert to raise funds.

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The cast for Songs4Soi include performances from: Christine Allado, Andrew Bateup, Adam Bayjou, Luke Bayer, Danny Colligan, Lloyd Daniels, Nicole Faraday, Harry Francis, Luke George, James Gillan, Chlöe Hart, Houston Girlband (Lauren Byrne, Holly-Anne Hull, Charlotte Steele), Danielle Irvine, Jordan Langford, Nathan Lodge, Robert McNeilly, The MTA, Mikaela Newton, Daisy Steere, Savannah Stevenson, Benjamin Vivian-Jones, Emma Williams. The MD on the night will be Jack Bennett and will be vocally accompanied by Phil Donnelly (Guitar), Alex Marshall (Cello), Peter Ashwell (Drums). (All of which are subject to availability). It’s expected to be a fabulous night raising money for such a great cause. Get down and join in with the action. Details below:

You can buy tickets for Giggin4Good presents Songs4Soi here: http://app.etickets.to/buy/?e=15021

(Actors’ Church, Covent Garden. 7pm May 28th 2017)

Review: Audra McDonald – In Concert (Leicester Square Theatre)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
April 12th 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Last night, Six-time Tony award winning Audra McDonald opened her four night residency at the Leicester Square Theatre. Although she may not be a big name in the UK, she is certainly a Broadway sensation and it’s wonderful to have her back in London. Hosted by pianist and long-term friend Seth Rudetsky and featuring special guest Will Swenson, it was an evening that fulfilled all of our stagey needs.

After performing at last weekends Oliver Awards, McDonald also had a show at the Donmar Warehouse back in 2000. We’d call these shows warm-ups for her West End acting debut as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, opening at the Wyndham’s in June. It’s great to be able to see her as her charming self before she jumps into the role of such an iconic singer this summer.

The show had a rather intimate feel and was a mix of show tunes lead by chatter as Rudetsky hosted a Q&A in between each song. It was evident that the pair had been friends for quite some time as they bounced off each others energy whilst reminiscing on their past. They told the story of her final exam at Juilliard in which he accompanied her on the piano, a moment in which she thought she was going to epically fail. It was wonderful to see the ease of their conversation that was filled with fun, lighthearted humour and sassiness. Whilst continuing to include the audience it felt like you were in a room filled with your closest friends.

McDonald told stories of her journey to stardom through her college experiences, her first job working in Dinner Theatre’s and her celebrity encounters along the way, including what it was like to work with Puff Daddy and the time Liza Minnelli made her late for the Tony’s. She also told of the time she passed out at a concert to which Julie Andrews came to visit her in hospital to make sure she was okay. It was all very showbiz and we loved it!

Her setlist included songs such as “Maybe This Time”, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and a duet with husband Will, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”. Showcasing her trained operatic voice, McDonald filled the room with her incredible vocals, her warmness and over-powering charm. It’s understandable that the crowd were eating out of the palm of her hand and were fixated on her performance.

Audra, is not only a wonderful leading lady, she’s a parent and it’s clear to see that she balances show-business with her personal life very well. She’s a star and after last night, we can absolutely see why.

You can catch Audra at the Leicester Square Theatre until Saturday 15th April:
https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873569219

Ticket’s for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill are also on sale now
(Wyndhams Theatre from 27th June -9th September)
http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/tickets/lady-day/

 

Review: The Winters Tale (Barbican)

Reviewed by Ksenya Grey
April 6th 2017
Reviewer rating:

‘Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition’

Cheek by Jowl’s internationally renowned touring production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale has landed at the Barbican, and it is a work of brilliance.

The plays of William Shakespeare are so embodied into our theatre culture that the reinventions of his classics are always meet with intrigue. The five act play seamlessly changes tone throughout the evening – with the first three acts are more of a psychological drama, a Greek tragedy if you will, and the last two a drama with comedic interludes by Autolycus (Ryan Donaldson).

Orlando James is the true stand out of the evening as Leontes, King of Sicilia, whose delight in his family is destroyed when he is gripped by a sudden paranoia that his wife has been having an affair, and that his brother Polixenes, the visiting King of Bohemia, is the true father of her unborn child.

James is equally matched by Natalie Radmall-Quirke, who plays Leontes’ Queen, Hermione. Her performance is powerful and her death breaks the heart of every audience member in that theatre.

What makes this production stand out is the stage is used as a blank canvas with very minimal allowing the words tell the story.

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Review: Lizzie The Musical (Greenwich Theatre)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
24th February 2016
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

It’s fair to say that a trip to see Lizzie The Musical, won’t be your average night out to the theatre. Making it’s UK debut at the Greenwich Theatre, it tells the story of a suspected murderess in the victorian era. The book, written by Tim Maner takes a real life case and tells it through the use of song explaining the many theories of this morbid tale.

In the house of Borden, not everything is well. The show follows Lizzie and her sister Emma who live with their father and stepmother, an arrangement that they are not comfortable with. Abused by her father and finding out that his will has changed much to their stepmothers favour, it’s breaking point for Lizzie. Her sister leaves town and therefore she takes charge leaving her with blood on her hands (but not on her dress). Suspicions arise from Maid Bridget (also known as Maggie) and Alice, the Borden’s neighbour/admirer of Lizzie and comes down to who will keep the bloody secret?.

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Credit: Soren Lizzie Maltose

The show feels like you’ve stepped into a rock concert with minimal staging, therefore relying solely on the music to tell the story. At stage’s during the show you feel as if you should be standing in a mosh pit at the front of the stage rather than sitting in a theatre style situation. With a live band at the side of the stage at all times, the cast make the use of handheld microphones for the majority of the show which gave it a real rocky edge.

Act one had a slight feel of confusion and took us a while to get into the swing of what was happening. If you’re not solely giving your full attention into what the dialogue is trying to convey, it’s easy to feel a little lost. Act two felt more relaxed/natural as the girls undergo a transformation which allows their characters to develop. At times, the lighting was a little overwhelming and somewhat blinding but it’s used to create a perfect rock arena feel which fits with the theme of the show.

You can’t fault the talent from this powerhouse foursome. Danish actress Bjorg Gamst (Lizzie) makes a wonderful leading lady. Her character development from a shy, abused young girl transforms into a strong and confident woman. She carries the show well and has an amazing vocal to go with it.  Eden Espinosa shines bright with incredible stage presence, stand out vocals and a powerful performance. She is charismatic and puts her all into her character. Jodie Jacobs (Maggie) brings lightheartedness and humour to her role and is a big audience pleaser. Beau Woodward (Alice) shows the side of innocence and is a real contrast to the other three.

It’s refreshing to see something different and it’s guarranted to be a theatre experience that you won’t expect. The show is loud, in your face and pretty outragious but it’s something that you won’t have seen before.

Lizzie plays at the Greenwich Theatre until 12 March

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