writes: One of my hobbies is writing reviews of shows, usually musicals, that
I’ve seen. Mostly these have been in
Flahooley (Performance July/August 1997) - A Review
Lost Musicals 1998 (Performances
of Summer 1998) -
A review of the 1998 season of
Mamma Mia review 2 (Performance of Tuesday 7 June 2001) - An account of the second time I saw the hit musical Mamma Mia. I sometimes think this might be subtitled “Super Trouper Star Saves Her Own Show” as: Pepper seemed to have mislaid his Chemistry set, Rosie was short of a counterbalance, and I don’t know what Tanya thought she was doing. All I can say is thank goodness for Louise Plowright as Donna The Dynamo.
Anything Goes (Performance of 4 July 2002) - A review of the Grange Park Opera production, which starred the redoubtable Kim Criswell as Reno Sweeny. Apart from providing a full account of a very full production of Anything Goes, this review is also an opportunity to compare Kim Criswell with both Ethel Merman and Louise Gold.
Two’s A Crowd (Performance of 20 October 2002 in Southampton) - A review of a new little musical about Opera versus Jazz, which ends up with an opera diva, played by a real one, Rosalind Plowright, doing a crossover, and very well she does it too.
Sweeney Todd (Performance of Friday 9 January 2004) - A review of the Royal Opera House production. Is this an Opera or a Musical? or simply a piece of Music Theatre? Whatever you call it it’s a jolly fine production. All the performers are good. It’s quite a revelation how brilliantly many of these opera singers, among them: Thomas Allen, William Dazeley, and, Rosalind Plowright can act; But the surprise of the evening is Felicity Palmer.
Shooting Star Gala (Sunday 16 May
2004, Richmond Theatre, Surrey) - A review of a gala at a local theatre.
with a wealth of talent, including: Jane Asher, Sarah Greene, Tony Hawks,
Jessica Martin, Roger McGough, Tony Robinson, Prunella
Scales, and, Timothy West However, the
highlight was the finale starring Maria Friedman accompanied by Chris Walker and
Singin’ In The Rain (Saturday 7 August 2004, Sadlers Wells) - A review of The
third Leicester Haymarket Team In London’s musical. Turning a classic film into
a good stage show is no mean feat, but under
And The Beast - A Musical Pantomime (Wednesday 29 December 2004, The
Lighthouse, Poole) - a review of The Lighthouse Arts Centre in
(Sunday 22 May 2005) - A review of
Pictures Of Lee Miller (Thursday 14 July 2005, The Minerva Theatre, The
Chichester Festival Theatre) - a review of a new musical by
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Thursday 29 December 2005, The Lighthouse, Poole) - a review of The Lighthouse Arts Centre in Poole’s Christmas 2005 Pantomime. Even better than last year’s Beauty And The Beast (and that was good). Darren Bennett and Anthony Reed make a splendid team. Mark Osmand creates real character, and, Brian Cant is a seasoned entertainer; But the star of the show is supertrouper Louise Plowright who delivers an admirable tour de force as The Wicked Queen.
Nymph Errant (Sunday 23 April 2006, Lillian Bayliss
Theatre Sadlers Wells) – A review of Ian
Marshall-Fisher’s Discovering Lost Musicals concert staging of this musical.
Dutch Baroness Issy Van Randwyck
makes the jolly English title role, and Cole Porter’s songs, very much her own;
with strong support from such versatile performers as: Stewart Permitt, Gay Soper, James
Vaughan, and, Matt Zimmerman amongst others; while
Avenue Q (Tuesday 20 June 2006, Noel Coward Theatre) – A review of the London Production. Four new puppeteers do their best in a fun, feel good, groundbreaking, edifying show. The puppeteers (Julie Atherton, Claire Foster, Simon Lipkin, and, Jon Robyns), clearly have potential, although they lack the polish of experience. The score is quite decent, the lyrics thoughtful, and the book an affectionate edifying take-off of a certain much loved pre-school children’s programme.
Bad Girls – The Musical (Friday 23 June 2006, The
West Yorkshire Playhouse,
Follies (Friday 3 November 2006, Royal
& Derngate Theatre,
Can Can (Sunday 15 April
2007, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells)
– A review of
Steven Pimlott – A Celebration
(Thursday 17 May 2007, Olivier Theatre, National Theatre) – A review of the
‘Memorial Concert’ presented at the National Theatre celebrating the life and
work of theatre director Steven Pimlott.
Including contributions from: Nicholas Hynter, Edward
Kemp, Ruth Mackenzie, Meera Syal,
Around The World In 80 Days (Sunday
1 July 2007, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s
Wells) – A review of
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Friday 6 July 2007, The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton) – A review of the touring production. How would it compare to the show at The Palladium three years ago? Couple Craig McLachlan play an English inventor? Is Alvin Stardust any good on the musical stage? And in particular how would David Henry and Louise Plowright fair tackling the roles once inhabited by Christopher Biggins and Louise Gold? Would they be as good?
The Drowsy Chaperone (24 July 2007, The Novello Theatre) – A review of the London production. A fun score (by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison) with lots of good old-fashioned 1920’s style cheese, and proud of it. A cast which includes: Selina Chilton, Sean Kingsley, Elaine Paige, John Partridge, and, Summer Strallen have a good flapper style frolic, but the show suffers from its production and advertising.
Cabaret In The House: Rebecca Thornhill & Louise Davidson (Sunday 25 November 2007, Lauderdale House) – A review of one of Lauderdale House’s Sunday afternoon cabarets. In fact what must surely be one of the most entertaining episodes of Cabaret In The House. Rebecca Thornhill and Louise Davidson sing and dance their way through an afternoon of jolly good, mostly 1940s, fun.
James And The Giant
Peach (Tuesday 18 December 2007, The
Chichester Festival Theatre) – A Review of Chichester Youth Theatre’s new
Christmas musical. A good opportunity to hear a nice tuneful score, by
the brilliant contemporary theatre composer
Park Avenue (Sunday 13 April 2008, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) –
Avenue 2 review 2 (Wednesday 28 May 2008,
Noel Coward Theatre) – A review of the
Blood Brothers (Monday 16 June 2008, Phoenix Theatre) – A review of the long
running London production of this show. This performance had four
understudies on, including Louise Davidson (rather an experienced West End
understudy) holding the show together, along with Amy O’Neil. So would the
standards one expects in a show like this be upheld? Is it worth a
A Christmas Carol (Saturday 27 December 2008,
Chichester Festival Theatre) – A review of Chichester Youth Theatre’s new
Christmas musical. A splendid sparkling score from the
brilliant, British theatre composer-lyricist-and-orchestrator
Oklahoma! (Monday 22 June 2009, Chichester Festival
Theatre) – A review of John Doyle’s very surprising
Johnny Johnson (Sunday 5 July 2009, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) –
Call Me Madam (Friday 14 August 2009, Upstairs At The Gatehouse, Highgate) – Given that the film really is practically perfect, and fairly close to the original Broadway production (well it starred Ethel Merman), how would this fringe production, starring Beverley Klein fair? Would it be worth seeing? Beverely Klein might not be an obvious choice for a Merman role, but she is a good sensible steady singer-actress. Meanwhile Guido Schmanski and Chris Love rise to the challenge of tackling the legacy of George Sanders and Donald O’Connor respectively.
Sam’s Bar (Saturday 24 October 2009, RAFA Twickenham) – A review of RAFA Group’s once-a-year charity revue, which this year, had an unusual dep pianist, a West End veteran of The Palace, The Palladium and The Playhouse orchestra pits, Kate Young. It has to be said that Irving Berlin’s ‘I love A Piano’ has never sounded so apt.
White Christmas (Saturday 28 November 2009,
A Christmas Carol – review 2 (Tuesday 15
December 2009, Birmingham Rep) – Last year’s Chichester Youth Theatre’s
production gets a professional revival.
The Snow Queen (Tuesday 29 December 2009,
Chichester Festival Theatre) – The latest offering from The Chichester Youth
Theatre, once again the piece has been written specifically for them, with book
by Bryony Lavery, music and lyrics by
The Lady Or The Tiger (Friday 30 January 2010, The Orange Tree) – The Orange Tree, West London’s “Pocket National Theatre” bring back to life a piece of their own history, and in fact a forgotten piece of West End history. Riona O’Connor and Andrew C Wadsworth are both amazingly versatile and extremely impressive.
Avenue Q review 3 (Friday 12 March 2010,
The Gielgud Theatre) – A review of the
The World Goes Round (Thursday 1 April
2010, The Castle, Wellingborough) – A Kander &
Ebb revue performed by a team of five: Sophie Louise Dann,
Ashley Day, Louise Plowright, Laura Pitt
42nd Street (Monday 23 August 2010,
The Chichester Festival Theatre) – Chichester gets a new triumvirate, this time
an acting one, as Kathryn Evans, Tim Flavin, and Louise Plowright take to the
Chichester main stage in 42nd Street, along with a youngster, Lauren
Hall. A fine peice of entertainment put together by
the Leicester Haymarket team of
(Sunday 7 November 2010, The Queen Theatre, London) – A concert-staging aiming
to reunite the company from the Donmar Warehouse
production fifteen years ago. Adrian Lester stars, while Anna Francolini delivers a sterling performance. Other members
of that Donmar company include:
A Christmas Carol – review 3 (Friday 3 December
2010, The West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre) –
Alice Through The
Looking Glass (Sunday 12 December 2010, The
Egg Studio Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath) – A very funny little fringe theatre
adaptation of a classic children’s novel based around the game of chess.
This joyful romp of a Christmas show has a versatile cast of six, five of whom
play a variety of parts. Three of them in particular:
Avenue Q review 4 (Friday 4 March 2011, Richmond Theatre, Surrey) – A review of seeing Avenue Q now touring the UK on the week it played Richmond, Surrey. As usual the four young puppeteers (Rachel Jerram, Katharine Moraz, Adam Pettigrew, and Chris Thatcher) are all relatively new to puppetry, though two of them have been in the London casts, and it is good to see them stepping up to performing major roles. Rachel Jerram seems to be a talented singer-actress. While Chris Thatcher’s performance as Trekkie is really rather excellent, well worth seeing, he seems to have captured something of the extrovert nature of a certain legendary group of anarchic puppeteers.
Romeo And Juliet (Thursday 17 March 2011, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon) – Noma Dumezweni, Forbes Mason, Jonjo O’Neill, and. Sam Troughton all contribute strong performances, but it is Mariah Gale’s Juliet that carries this production directed by Rupert Gould, making it a very special and memorable part of redeveloped The Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s reopening season.
Six Pictures Of Lee Miller review 2 (15 February 2013, Jerwood Vanborough Theatre, RADA) – Jessie Buckley stars in the role originated by Anna Francolini, in the first ever revival of a Jason Carr musical. A wonderful opportunity for London audiences to see this musical masterpiece that Jason Carr and Edward Kemp originally wrote the The Chichester Festival Theatre.
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