Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Review: Amadeus at The Chichester Festival Theatre

'Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man! But I assure you, my music is not.'

Courtesy of www.chichesterweb.co.uk

This Summer at the Chichester Festival Theatre hosts the newly £22 million renewed Building. The refurbishment took 18 months and the the first production on the fantastic hexagonal, 1200 seater theatre was a legendary 1979 Baroque play, Amadeus, which really packs a punch.

This production of Amadeus celebrates the playwright, Peter Shaffer's 50 years association with the theatre, and it seemed a brilliant fit to 'show off' this relaunched theatre. Jonathan Church, both the Artistic Director of the theatre and the Director of this production, has directed a delightful, funny yet low tragedy which really draws you in.

Rupert Everett plays the 70 year old former Italian, monarchy composer Salieri, who from his wheelchair tells the audience his account of his clearly troubled relationship with his belief of God connected with music and that of the modern/irritating Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri begins to covertly punish Mozart out of jealousy but when he feels abandoned by God, he takes pleasure in Mozarts psychological downfall which all gets all too much. Everett's portrayal of bitter jealousy towards Mozart is outstanding. 

Mozart is played by the young Joshua McGuire who with ruthless energy and humour from the start is a pleasure to watch, but then the character shows the audience desperation and despair from his psychological downfall. After not being successful at court which really confuses Mozart, he resorts to ungodly performances of his works which leads to more tragedy from Salieri. The final scenes shows Mozart struggling to compose a requiem requested by an unknown figure in his mind, but it suddenly dawns on him he is composing the requiem for his own death.

Was Salieri to blame for Mozart's death?

The play is written like an opera, and with splendid acting and staging of the tragedy, you fell right in the heart of Salieri's story.

I give this production 4/5.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Review: Matilda the Musical

Matilda, is the stage musical based on the classic Roald Dahl book, Matilda. Music and lyrics by Australian actor and comedian, Tim Minchin. Book by Dennis Kelly
We have all seen and remembered the 1996 film adaptation of Matilda so the exciting prospect of a big no expense spared production musical on the West end was a delightful prospect.
The show did not disappoint.
First of all, the atmosphere in the auditorium was electric, the theatre was at capacity and the set was breathtaking. We knew we were in for a treat. Kelly was able to translate the pinnacle roles from the book and apply depth to characters like Miss Honey and gave the audience a great deal of emotional attachment to Honey, Matilda and the other school kids. While doing so, it allowed for the audience to connect with Trunchbull from her/his hilarious comedic performance. (The worst thing In a production is to allow no attachment to a character)
Tim Minchin's musical numbers for me were a mixed bag. Most were phenomenal, memorable and displayed the characters emotions well, linking in with Kellys book. My only issue was the focus on comedy. (I appreciate its a show for children and adults). Some of the songs were lost in the show and felt there was little need.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the character, Trunchbull played by Bertie Carvel. The comedic brilliance in the acting came through like a treat. We were practically on stitches. The little girl who played Matilda was a brilliant singer and actress and definitely brought the show together with the choreography and set design.
Matilda has now opened productions on Broadway and Australia and if I'm not mistaken there are possible film rights in place for the show to be made into a Hollywood blockbuster.
I give the show 4.5/5
Please go see it!!!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Life Update: Moving to London (6 month journey so far)

I made a BIG step back in June and moved to London.

This was something I had wanted to to do for a long time and when the opportunity arose... I took it.
So 'what are you up to?' And 'what adventures have you had?' I hear you ask!!

(Me and the Girl http://dress-it-up-6.blogspot.co.uk/ in Green Park) How We've grown =)

Sadly, I haven't seen as many West End shows as I thought or dreamed but Ive seen enough to keep me happily humming away around the streets of London. A major show I saw was Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along - in one word? Brilliant!

London has so many events going on. I managed to go to the Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court a few months ago. It was really great to see many faces from BBC2's Great British Bake Off. There were hundreds of cake stalls selling their own bakes, promoting their businesses plus there were competitions and demonstrations. I was in baking heaven. 

Can I also just point out how GREAT London's Restaurant scene is. I will point out that me and my girlfriend LOVE to wine and dine. One of the nicest restaurants we went to was Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa in St Pauls. We went for our two year anniversary (Don't worry, we're not married) and their wine was Spectacular. We had their Rioja and we literally struggled to stop the drinking the stuff. Its a great place to go if anyone is wondering where to have a nice sophisticated meal in London.

I will be blogging more frequently about baking, theatre and exciting things in London so keep tuned guys.

Keep reading
Craig x

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Review: The Bodyguard

Well..... What can we say.

I have been nagging my girlfriend for the past year (maybe more) to watch this new show. If I'm honest I have no idea why. Firstly, I have never seen the film and I am definitely not a fan of the 'smash hit' musicals based on wretched pop stars songs. Nothing against the late Whitney Houston but I think that's the reason why I was so keen. (Don't get me started on the new musical in workshops in America based on Jesus via the tunes of Britney Spears.)

I will say this now, Beverley Knight was a triumph! Her voice was incredible. If there ever was a voice I could listen to over and over, it would be hers.

Unfortunately, that is where the positive ends.

The show failed to keep me interested. I had no interest or even cared for the characters. I'm not sure whether this was the book or the acting. In my opinion the show was just too 'loud' and uninteresting. The songs were haphazardly put together, not contributing to the story.

The set was pretty impressive however. The appearance was set in the style of a camera shutter that moved, opened and closed.

This show has effectively made me realise that I much prefer a musical with a lot of grit, based on relationships. Sondheim basically.

Keep reading :-)


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: Top Hat

"In dealing with a girl or a horse, one just lets nature take it's course"

Top Hat is currently playing at the Aldwych theatre and is based on RKO's Motion Picture from 1935.
Music & Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Adapted by Matthew White & Howard Jacques

Top Hat can be described as Fred Astaire's and Ginger Roger's greatest dance musical and with the new production having a string of Laurence Olivier awards including 'Best New Musical' in toe, this show was sure to be good.

The show is set initially in Holywood, showcasing 'Big Star' Jerry Travers and his exquisite talent for tap dancing. Jerry is a self confessed bachelor but when meeting Dale Tremont from the Hotel room down below, his visions of love become redefined. With a case mistaken identity, Jerry tries to win Dale over.

'Putting on my Top Hat' dance number is a big success and the intermission starts.

The second Act is set in a holiday destination, where Dale's confusion of who Jerry really is comes to a climax. Once she realises however, she has already married her fashion designer.  
All is well in the end shall we say.

Top hat is a typical old musical, with swerve, charisma and charm. The music is full of swooping violins and is all about love. If you prefer the old musical then this is definitely for you.

I personally loved the big dance routines and the set was fantastic. Everything worked well but there was something missing....the singing. I missed having a few big songs but this still didn't lose the shows charm. Another thing for me was the comedy was not really amusing for a young audience plus the set looked like it had taken a battering from the months of tap dancing.

I give this show 3.5/5

Top Hat is ending on the 26th October so you need to hurry.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Upcoming: Into the Woods Disney Film 2014

"Children will Listen"

Filming on set has begun for Disney's film version of Stephen Sondheim's classic Broadway production: Into The Woods! .... US release date 25th December.

The movie will be produced by Tony Nominated, Rob Marshall.

Into the Woods first made its debut at the Martin Beck theatre on the 5th of November 1987 for a 2 year run. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. After a few successful revivals over the years (one which I will be reviewing very soon) Disney have begun filming for their adaptation.

The musical is loosely based on the Brothers Grim, a comedy drama around a series of fairytales colliding together in the woods via a wicked witch teaching them all a lesson.

Casting includes:
Meryl Streep - The Witch
Johnny Depp - The Wolf
Anna Kendrick - Cinderella
Emily Blunt - The Bakers Wife
James Corden - the Baker
Daniel Huttleston - Jack

My initial thoughts are a mixed bag shall we say... Streep and Depp haven't proven themselves in their singing ability. Mamma Mia and Sweeney Todd are not a great reference, however I am extremely intrigued how Disney will portray this story.

I guess I just have to wait.

via teaser trailer 

Review: Wicked


London, Apollo Victoria Theatre 02/01/13

So, as it happens my Girlfriend has seen this twice before and was ecstatic to suggest we go  see Wicked. It has always been something that I have wanted to see as it is a HUGE production and has been around on the West End since 2005/2006.

Aimee had been lucky enough to have seen the last performance version in the West End of the original Broadway actor, Idina Menzel. Aimee loves this musical so I was excited to finally see it for myself!
So, Wicked's music and lyrics are written by Stephen Scwartz and the book is by Winnie Holzman. It is based on a book written by Gregory Maguire in 1995 called 'Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of The West', which coincidentally runs parallel to the original Wizard of Oz film in 1939 that we all know!

The show began...
The story tells us of a unfortunate green girl named Elpheba (played by Louise Dearman) who attends Shiz university to look after her disabled sister. Also at the school is room mate Glinda (played by Gina Beck) who is beautiful, blonde and most importantly... popular. The hatred they have for each other soon turns to friendship as they both want to change the Land of Oz from weird goings on through the powers of 'good'. Once they meet the great and powerful Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, their estimations of this the great man plummets as the cause of the strange goings on are down to him and he tricked Elpheba in increasing the wickedness. The trickery then leads to the general consumption that Elpheba is the cause of Wickedness in the land of Oz.... cue Defying gravity which literally forced the hairs on the back of neck stand up in awe of Louise Dearman's fantastic powerful voice!

Adventures continue for the pair of witches but Elpheba will forever be tarnished with being Wicked even though she tries to use good deeds. Cleverly however, the second half coincides with the original Wizard of Oz film and implies the whereabouts of Dorothy , The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Lion giving a different side to The Wicked Witch of The West at the iconic points in the film.
The show finishes with dare I say, an expected plot twist and the curtains go down.
I will admit now, although the music was powerful and the set was incredible for this huge theatre, I didn't particularly like the storyline and the relationship between the music and the story, there were points where time skipped too much and I was left slightly confused at the far-fetchedness of it all. However, i am glad to have seen it and to have experienced incredible voices which really sets this musical apart from the others due to the powerfulness by Louise Dearman and the company.
Random point to make which really did confuse me and make me somehow mildly discomforted was how the theatre was suddenly "Americanised". there were people up and down selling fizzy drinks and snacks plus little snack stands... Bizarre!

Overall, I give this show a rating of 3.5