There really is no other musical like it – Rocky Horror has a cult fan base that passionately support it wherever it goes. Richmond Theatre was looking glitzier than ever last week as an assorted bunch in sequins and silk excitedly arrived for their favourite show.
Here anything goes… shouting at the stage is permitted, phones are switched on for props and singing along is wholeheartedly encouraged! Even the grumpiest of visitors can’t help but toe-tap, sing and dance.
I first saw the glistening body of Oliver Thornton in Priscilla Queen on the Desert (he starred as Felicia for three years in the original cast at the Palace Theatre) needless to say he has a knack for playing transvestites. But there is more to Oliver than his impressive physique, with a training in dance, vocal versatility and wonderful comic timing, he was made to play this part. With legendary Philip Franks as narrator and soapstar Roxanne Pallett as Janet, the rest of the cast are equally impressive.
Our performance was BSL interpreted for the hearing impaired, which I thought would be a distraction but in fact was a fabulous additional entertainment by the very talented Paul, sadly no second name was given in the programme. Dressed in a black lace corset and panties, he had buckets of swagger and charisma.
This eccentric show is addictive and this production does not disappoint. So dig out your fishnets and make sure you learn the words prior to attending!
Continues until 2 November in theatres around the contact, more information here.
I would recommend not taking a bag to the Roundhouse when you go to see Bianco. The NoFit State immersive promenade circus show requires just as much energy and alertness from the audience as from the performers. Guests are required to be very mobile, moving around the circular venue after each act… a unique concept but one that was rather frustrating with a heavy handbag and coat.
Internationally renowned for its dramatic live contemporary circus performance, blending jaw-dropping skills with untamed elegance and subversive edge, NoFit State returns to the stage with Bianco. There is little narrative, or at least no story that I could grasp. Instead the show is a series of visual vignettes displaying artistic and acrobatic finesse… the only theme? The colour white. With a constantly evolving tale set to a pounding soundtrack performed by a live band, this is an all consuming theatrical experience. Under the direction of Firenza Guidi the talented cast present a vividly imaginative performance.
Though I felt this show lacked wow factor Bianco does offer fantasy and awe, and there are a few moments of magic. The Cirque du Soleil life-defying risks are instead replaced with visually breathtaking acts exhibiting immense physical strength and incredible flexibility. For me it was the band that made the whole night worth the hassle… the gut-wrenchingly passionate musicians provided a mesmerising soundtrack for the evening.
NoFit State continues to reinvent circus with this stunning performance. After London the show will tour Brighton, Cardiff, Bristol, Narberth, Bangor and Edinburgh.
In London until 27 April, more information and book here.
I have four cats. Dotty is the eldest with a distinctive coat of spots and a loud miaow, Cocoa is a cautious but cute chocolate coloured cat, Plum has a beautiful purple-grey coat but a mean hiss and little Geoff is the youngest and most affectionate, cuddling up to you whenever he’s given the chance.
Everyone has heard all about Lloyd Webber’s famous musical Cats which has set world records on both the West End and Broadway stages. Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, it tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles, their antics and adventures. There is little narrative structure but the show is loosely held together by the magnificent musical motifs and melodies. Songs such as ‘Memory’, ‘Macavity’ and ‘Mr. Mistoffelees’ are much loved both in the context of the production and as pieces in their own right.
Currently on tour at the Grand Opera House in Manchester, this production is receiving enthusiastic audiences every night. I was sat next to a very enamoured fan who annoyingly sang along to every word, when I nudged her to shush she smiled apologetically but continued to mouth each and every syllable. Never before have I seen such a cult following at such a long running show, it is truly a testament to the quality of this musical.
I sang many of the songs as a child, and so was thrilled to hear them performed on stage, but I found the faultless dance routines and wonderful costumes even more exciting to witness. The cast are incredible, flexible and fabulously feline, hitting every note with vigour and vitality.
At last I understand what all the hype is about… this show is truly legendary, a musical phenomenon you have to experience at least once in your life.
CATS continues at The Manchester Opera House until 20 April 2013, book here.
For a start there is the large number of greying glam rockers feeling the agonies of unrequited love all over again as they stand mesmerised by Bowie costumes, videos and portraits. Then there is the problem of everybody wearing audio guides and shuffling around in the near-darkness like a troupe of zombies from some Diamond Dogs style dystopia. And there is the fact that the concentration of the Bowie phenomenon was the 1970s, forty years ago and there have been some less edifying creative moments since – this is addressed by ornamenting the full length of the show with 70s highlights thereby confusing any chronology and sense of evolution.
This is a new kind of exhibition: an examination of a single living individual as cultural catalyst and all round icon. There are not many artists who warrant such attention. David Bowie does. The blanket media coverage of his creative rebirth and the simultaneous hype surrounding this show have produced a dazzling glare illuminating, rather than over-exposing, his significance as musician, fashion pioneer and popular conceptualist.
The outfits are still extraordinary, the music is still inspiring and the man still appears exotically beautiful. Everybody is seduced by his art once again. However it is the way he redefined gender that is probably his most important legacy. Is there any more widely cited televisual epiphany than the draping of Bowie’s arm over Mick Ronson’s shoulder on Top of the Pops? That is the closest we have come to an extraterrestrial invasion – the starman blew our minds.
Continues until 11 August 2013, more information and become and V&A member here.
Lady Rizo is my kinda girl…feisty, fun and fabulous. Fresh from New York’s cabaret scene, she has arrived in England to make her London debut at the Soho Theatre.
I was initially attracted to Lady Rizo because of her name… any who know me well will know about my obsession with Grease and my ongoing ambition to play the rebellious Rizzo. When I researched Lady Rizo’s show, I realised there was more than just her name to love. She is a ballsy comedienne and chanteuse from America with fierce attitude, a wacky sense of humour, sensational vocal talent and an addictively daring character. She has an undeniable ability to entertain.
The show starts at 9.45 pm which is quite late for a weeknight, but I left more awake than when I arrived: her wit and wonderfulness leave you buzzing. I will admit we didn’t always ‘get’ the jokes, but the music, wow, it was incredible. Of the songs she performed, some are original compositions, others hauntingly beautiful covers. She effortlessly belts and bellows into the microphone, with exceptional tone and not a note out of tune… impressive considering the vocal range she displays.
It is a raucous night and audience members should expect to be fully included… so if you’re shy don’t sit in the front row or by the aisle! Sitting within easy reach I was the subject of one of her first jokes as she removed my glasses (with difficulty) and mucked around with my hair. Funnier though was when she picked a redhead to help her change outfit while asking her about how she lost her virginity. It sounds seedy but Lady Rizo manages to add glitz and humour to every situation and had the whole venue in fits of laughter.
On Wednesday 27th February we were lucky enough to have Noisettes singer, Shingai Shoniwa in the audience. She whooped and wolf whistled enthusiastically for her friend throughout until eventually she was asked up on stage to help Rizo with her spectacular encore. It was an excellent extra.
A comic who can move, a singer who can joke and an entertainer who can inspire, Rizo is a very special lady, catch her while you can at the Soho Theatre.
Even after reading the synopsis twice the ridiculous narrative of Rossini’s famous Barber of Seville makes little sense. But let’s be honest people flock to see this opera for the magnificent music not for the story.
Having said that, the ENO’s revival is terribly funny and uses the nuances of the complicated tale to include hilariously entertaining episodes. Although the production is not in modern dress, the modernised English lyrics are extremely clever and fit in perfectly with the comical operetta style.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary year, Jonathan Miller’s classic staging of Rossini’s masterpiece is back at the Coliseum, in my opinion better than ever. The petite cast work brilliantly together to present a seamless performance of music and drama, and revival director Peter Relton has managed to give a new lease of life to Miller’s original version.
The show starts slowly but soon gathers momentum. I was captivated throughout, my attention completely controlled by the characters on stage. Benedict Nelson is a witty and charismatic Figaro, and his voice is elegant and charming. My guest adored David Soar’s depiction of Don Basilio and we both loved Andrew Shore’s magnificently energetic and clever performance as Doctor Bartolo. However it is the leading lady who steals the show. Lucy Crowe sparkles as the coloratura diva, Rosina. Her voice soars and pierces the top stratospheric notes with staggering ease and impressive dexterity. Along with her natural acting ability and good looks, she is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Surprisingly for the first time I found the ENO orchestra a little sluggish under the command of Jaime Martin, a conductor I didn’t recognise. They did pick up the passion once the familiar arias swung into action. Visually the production is a joy, though we would have appreciated perhaps one more scene change. Costumes may be cumbersome for the cast but are worth the effort as they look gorgeous under the lights.
I am always interested in the ENO’s new compositions, but there is only so much tragedy us opera reviewers can cope with… in my opinion it is much more fun skipping home still singing the marvellous tunes of Rossini’s great comic masterpiece.
I went to A Chorus Line with my little sister, who is perhaps an even bigger musical theatre fan than me. Together we have seen most shows and have high standards. Needless to say she always has an opinion to voice when the final curtain falls… so I was concerned when I turned to her for her final verdict and she remained silent. Finally she whispered enigmatically “no words…” whilst shaking her head. It was so good that she had lost the ability to speak!
Many still remember the birth of A Chorus Line in New York in 1975… more than 30 years later it is still electrifying audiences. The story is modest and simple… a group of hopefuls try out for the chorus line-up, each showcase the character quirks that make them special and convey their individual hopes and dreams. Undergoing a gruelling audition process, they each reveal strengths and weaknesses. All are undeniably talented but only four girls and four boys can be chosen for the final chorus line… the paradox is they are all having their personalities analysed in order to get a job as a member in chorus of clones.
Director Bob Avian’s production needs no expensive sets or elaborate props… the cast are able to provide everything needed for a stunning and captivating performance. Stark virtuosic dancing astounds the audience, commanding our attention for two hours, no break. It is a whirlwind of overwhelming excitement and emotion. The inventive and inspiring choreography is by Baayork Lee, and the cast do not miss a step of the exhausting routines.
The music is ridiculously good, I wanted to own the soundtrack within minutes. Songs “I can do that”, “One” and “What I did for love” are most familiar, but all the numbers are brilliantly uplifting. The spirit and sounds of the show are addictive, thanks to the explosively electric band led by musical director Alan Williams.
All of the cast are wonderful and I feel mean singling anyone out for special mention… but it was feisty Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Diana and Gary Wood’s endearing rendition of Paul that caught my attention.
Two hours of pure unadulterated joy, this is a must-see musical.
Another Roald Dahl adaptation and another hit. It is no surprise that these highly imaginative stories translate so well to the stage, only bizarre that it hasn’t been done sooner.
Everyone knows about Matilda’s staggering success in the West End (and now Broadway too) and most are aware of the imminent arrival of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but less have been notified of the smaller scale but equally magical production of James and the Giant Peach which is currently touring the country.
The heartbreaking problem is that this boutique show is not permitted within forty miles of London where the other bigger budget Dahl musicals are on stage in case families are persuaded by the lower ticket prices to choose it over the more expensive alternatives. Basically this means James and the Giant Peach won’t be coming to London any time soon; Matilda seems pretty permanent. It seems completely unfair that kids miss out on this marvellous production.
The Birmingham Stage Company bring life and laughter to this well known story about a young boy and his adventures with a giant peach. This inventive and enterprising show is a blast, suitable for all ages, equally entertaining for adults and kids. Every detail of the narrative is given thought, for which director Nikolai Foster should receive huge praise. The eight cast members (Tom Gillies, Chris Lindon, Claire Greenway, Sioned Saunders, Iwan Tudor, Rhys Saunders, Giovanna Ryan, Oliver Lynes) show astounding teamwork. Working together, they exceed expectations with an impossible task to provide a plethora of characters, dealing with set changes, arranging numerous props accordingly and providing the entire live musical accompaniment on about twenty different instruments. It is quite unbelievable how they do this so effortlessly and seamlessly throughout the two hour show, and I am in total awe of them all.
Amazingly this Birmingham based company has produced more Roald Dahl productions than any other company in the world and their knowledge and understanding of the writer is clear in the nuanced way the books are performed. James and the Giant Peach travels to a different city every week… please raise awareness for this show and try to visit it wherever you can, I promise it is worth the trip.
This Valentines Day Future Cinema staged another hit event with the classic love story, Casablanca. As usual this exceptional company have thought of everything and the immersive cinema experience is as thrilling as ever.
Prior to one’s arrival in Casablanca, everyone has to register with the French Protectorate in Morocco. One is issued with an identity card and instructions regarding the journey to Casablanca. After inspecting and searching, guests are admitted to Rick Blaine’s Cafe Americain (the magnificently converted 1930s cinema, The Troxy in Limehouse).
In true Future Cinema style, the venue is reinvented to mimic the setting from the film. Round tables are arranged in a ‘cabaret formation’ with a stage showcasing the musical and dancing talent. The brilliant retro band, Benoît Viellefon & His Orchestra play through the familiar songs and the audience is encouraged to gather around Sam’s piano while he entertains.
Visitors can try their luck in the Café’s own Casino, and dance into the night with the Casablanca cast who seamlessly blend into the audience. While you enjoy the night the great love story of Rick and Ilsa is relived around you.
All one’s senses are aroused in Casablanca. Strong martini cocktails are on sale at a small side bar, simple but delicious. Moroccan delicacies are served at the Blue Parrot Café by Moro of Exmouth Market; dishes including chicken tagine with preserved lemon and olives, vegetable couscous with sweet onions, raisins and harissa, as well as sweet Moroccan pastries take the immersive cinema experience onto an olfactory level, recreating the smells and tastes of this Moroccan city.
After the fun and games, the film screen emerges from the ceiling for the great viewing. Fans of this motion picture will cry with fondness and newcomers will gasp in amazement. Casablanca is an immortal film and Future Cinema’s rendition is the best way to watch it.
Love & Liquor sheds light and laughter on an otherwise quiet area of Kilburn. The younger sibling of popular Paradise by way of Kensal Rise, the venue has quickly won fans. I chose the bar for my birthday bash, and invited a group of friends to join in the fun: photoboothing, cocktail drinking and dancing.
There are various table and VIP area options for special occasions. We were allocated three tables near the entrance which suited us perfectly. My friends are keen cocktail drinkers so we made good use of the alluring prohibition-style drinks menu. The rum based fruity daiquiri and mojito were delicious but I was particularly impressed with the quirkier more inventive recipes that kept me refreshed all night.
My favourite feature of this bar is the Mighty (photo) Booth. Located in a corner, this vintage style machine allows guests to print three poses. Each strip costs £2 (coins are exchanged for tokens at the bar) and TWO copies of your photos shoot out almost immediately. It is a great momento of the night and a fun chance to strike a pose. I ended up spending most of my night in here, obsessed by the brilliant concept. Be warned though, your photos are likely to pop up on Facebook the following day for all to see.
It is chaotic at the door if you arrive any later than 9.30 pm. Even guest list and table parties will have trouble gaining entrance. After 10 the prices are bumped up, and the door staff are unwilling to compromise.
Venture further into the club and more madness must be endured, a squash of unruly guests shoving each other, grappling for space. The loos are a wreck, soaking wet floor and toilet roll nowhere to be seen. Basically avoid making a toilet trip and you should be fine.
Currently the club is thriving thanks to a Friday night residency from popular DJ Idris Elba (of The Wire), get yourself on the guest list quick.
Love and Liquor is a great venue with tasty drinks, exciting DJs and a super fun photobooth. But … the club is currently only open on Friday and Saturday nights which means you’ll always have to fight for a place in the bar and then continue to guard your territory all night.