Adapted from the multi award-winning film, Amélie The Musical is brought to the stage. Playing at The Alexandra until 27 July, this beautiful show gives a snapshot into Parisian life. Following the story of the shy Amélie Poulain, the audience are taken on a heart-warming journey through her early life, growing up, moving away, helping others and discovering love.
The ensemble comprises of sixteen multi-talented actor-musicians, who fill the stage with their glorious voices and exceptional musicianship. With music by Daniel Messé and lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messé, there are some touching, intimate moments in this well-crafted musical.
Set against a stunning, dynamic set - designed by Madeleine Girling - you are instantly immersed in Amélie’s world. The ‘lampshade’ moments are particularly wonderful and the accessible, multi-faceted set allows the pace of the show to never drop.
Under the direction of Michael Fentiman, there is never a dull moment. With many of the cast filling the scenes, whether as musicians, actors, singers (or all three!) there is a real slickness to the delivery of the show. Alongside this, the lighting design from Elliot Griggs and sound design from Tom Marshall combine together to create some truly striking moments.
Performances of note included Caolan McCarthy as Hopolito/Elton John, he brought warmth and humour to his roles and brilliantly led the closing number of the first act, Goodbye Amélie. Meanwhile, Danny Mac impressed as Nino and Jez Unwin excelled as Amélie’s germaphobe, retiring father Raphael.
However, it was Audrey Brisson in the titular role who brought the entire show to life. You could hear a pin-drop by the end of the show and when she sat down and played the piano - that really was a moment.
The story is quite simple and quaint, but the production is a thing of beauty. Reminiscent of Come From Away and Once, its the music and musicians that rightfully take centre-stage.
Ending with the enchanting Where Do We Go From Here, well, you go and buy a ticket…
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland undergoes a re-imagining in Stage2’s staging, which is being performed in the studio space at The Crescent until 20 July.
Adapted by Alexander Butler, who has also directed this production, Alice is an evacuee, caught in the midst of World War II. When forced to leave her London home, to live with her Aunt and Uncle in the countryside, she finds herself embarking on a rather curious adventure in Wonderland.
Still true to Carroll’s literary nonsense, all the familiar characters you expect to meet are there, from The Queen of Hearts to the Mad Hatter. The whole Stage2 company have clearly worked tirelessly to bring this children’s classic to life. It felt like a true ensemble production - across the board the characterisation and diction was brilliant - with some impressive individual performances.
Notable supporting performances included Roni Mevorach as Aunt / The Queen of Hearts, she delivered an assured portrayal of the foul-tempered monarch. Meanwhile, Joel Fleming brought much character and hilarity to the role of Roger / Mouse, with an endearing cameo from Sebastian Parker-Duber as Harry / Dormouse.
Alongside this, the pairing of Amit Mevorach as Bill / Bill the Lizard and Brianna Whitty as Cook brought some solid comic relief to proceedings. Whitty was excellent, with well-placed, over-exaggerated mannerisms, she held the audience’s attention and garnered many a laugh.
Two stand-out performances of the night came from Emily Cremins, who shone as Wendy / Mad Hatter and leading the way, in the titular role, was Lauren Brine as Alice. Brine brought a sassiness to the role of Alice and took the character out of its twee confines, holding the audiences attention throughout.
However, this was very much an ensemble show. The transition to Wonderland was visually delightful, cleverly depicted through frenetic movements, lighting and a moving platform.
If you’re curious to know more, why not buy a ticket? Playing until Saturday at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham.
With a history that includes a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, two Tony’s, one Grammy, one Emmy and
nominated for eleven Oscars, The Color Purple is undoubtedly a work of utter beauty across artforms. From novel, to film, to musical, the piece has evolved through the decades and now it opens in Birmingham, at the Hippodrome, following a run at Curve, Leicester.
The stage adaptation is written by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics from Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. Based upon the novel by Alice Walker and the motion picture that followed, Birmingham Hippodrome’s first ever co-production with the Curve is a sure-fire hit.
Featuring a 17-strong cast, this remarkable story is heart-breaking, yet heart-warming. Addressing many urgent, pertinent themes, the story delves into the deep, dark depths of racism, rape, oppression and domestic abuse, yet soars into the realms of love, freedom, hope and overcoming adversity.
The entire ensemble dazzle with astonishing voices that fill the vast Hippodrome auditorium. Spine-tingling harmonies delight, with outstanding individual performances. It really is the voices that shine in this production. Musically directed by Alex Parker and orchestrated by Martin Higgins, the music is sublime throughout.
Shy of listing the entire cast, special mention must go to the wonderful comic trio of Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah (Darlene), Landi Oshinowo (Jarene) and Danielle Kassaraté (Doris), who constantly break up the action with their hilarious gossiping, plus shout-out to Anelisa Lamola as the brilliant church soloist.
Superb supporting performances come from Delroy Brown as the skin-crawling Pa and Danielle Fiamanya as Celie’s headstrong sister Nettie, with Ako Mitchell making for a suitably detestable Mister. There were audible gasps from the audience throughout, followed by whoops and cheers when Celie stood up for herself - it was a moment to behold, and much credit due to Mitchell for embodying such a character so excellently. Alongside this, his rendition of Mister Song gave him an opportunity to showcase his impressive vocal range.
However, there were two parallel relationships that really shone through the night. Firstly, the pairing of Karen Mavundukure as Sofia and Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Harpo. Mavundukure was an absolute joy from start to finish - garnering many a laugh through the night, she navigated through a rollercoaster of emotions and beautifully portrayed the role of Sofia. Rhoden made for a likeable, endearing Harpo and when they joined together for their duet Any Little Thing, it was laugh-out-loud fun.
The second pairing of the night was Joanna Francis (Shug Avery) and T’Shan Williams (Celie). An unbelievably talented duo, their tenderness, feistiness and, above all, love, was brought to convincing life on stage. Particular highlights were Francis’s Too Beautiful For Words and their duet What About Love? which powerfully closed Act One, however it was the jaw-dropping performance from Williams in I’m Here that saw the audience erupt into applause - it was a stunning and memorable moment.
Blending dynamic set design (Alex Lowde) with complementary lighting (Joshua Pharo) and under the direction of Tinuke Craig, The Color Purple is a triumph which earned a well-deserved standing ovation.
It’s beautiful and it’s here in Birmingham until Saturday.
Snowfall in July is a brand new acoustic musical taking place over at the Old Joint Stock Theatre until Saturday. Performed by Midlands theatre company Starbuck, the group have always prided themselves on presenting new or rarely performed musicals. Yet again, they have found a nugget of beauty in the form of this show, with music composed by Andy Smith and Sam James (also Musical Director) and written by James Edge - alongside support from the company.
Staged in traverse the storyline flits from the UK to Amsterdam and back again. As tensions rise in the UK, and following a late night argument, Jack leaves his girlfriend Beth to seek solace in Amsterdam, where his Aunt Jean runs a rather unfortunately named Irish bar - ‘Jean’s Tally Whacker’.
Still coming to terms with the loss of his mother, Jack tries to find himself, meeting Charley along the way, whilst his cousin Ollie resides back home in the UK with Beth.
The overarching storyline is held together by protagonist Bernard (Ben Andrew), a hapless busker who has attempted to win the heart of Jean for seven years. Andrew’s depiction of Bernard is utterly endearing and his relationship with Sarah Pavlovs as Jean is simply heart-warming to watch.
As all of the character storylines interweave throughout the show, you find yourself fully immersed and invested in their world.
The whole cast delivered polished performances, with Ashleigh Aston’s brilliant vocals in the role of Beth, whilst Robert Dearn brought much comic relief as Ollie, Tom Silverton excelled in the role of Jack and Jessica Rowe was excellent as Charley.
Particular highlights of the show included Jessica Rowe’s performance of Run, Ben Andrew’s Rose for Jean and the ‘letter song,’ beautifully performed by Sarah Pavlovs.
The story had a real heart to it. And although there’s definite scope to trim it; there were some real moments of beauty captured in this new musical production. I
"A tremendous performance from an awarded group.."
The Spotlight youngsters never fail to delight their audiences and last night’s performance of You Can’t Hurry Love was no exception. Brilliantly written by Spotlight member Steve Groves, this colourful and vibrant musical comedy features holiday makers, holiday camp entertainers and the dedicated, nail-biting staff of Pontlings as they prepare to open their holiday camp to the public for the very first time.
A fabulous set-list of well-loved, mainly up-beat songs from the 50s and 60s drive the storyline along at an enthusiastic pace as auditions turn into summer jobs, holiday romances blossom, new friendships are sealed and big dreams come true. And this exciting all-singing-all-dancing cast of young people have clearly worked very hard indeed to produce a truly sparkling, fast-paced and highly entertaining show.
Directed by Charlotte Cowley and Michele Windsor, with Chris Allen and Ian Windsor in charge of music, the production is backed by a competent live band off stage and technically steered by an adept sound and light crew who have designed some really lovely schemes to compliment the big dance numbers and scene changes. Nice, simple set pieces with quality, hand-painted designs are utilised well and scenes change almost unnoticeably as the over 60-strong group of well costumed performers execute well-rehearsed entries and exits with Red Arrows precision (or so it seemed from the front!), always with confidence and self assurance.
Too large a cast to mention individually (although I would love to!) but a huge well done to the principal actors for their excellent character portrayals and confident singing, congratulations to the lead dancers who demonstrated some excellent choreography and, of course, to the supporting character actors - from tiny to tall who all did the company proud.
A tremendous performance from an awarded group who are clearly big on the ‘theatre family’ ethos, who, as a group, radiate love and confidence and who should be incredibly proud of their continuing achievements.
Runs to 13 July
ps. Looking forward to seeing the Christmas panto production of Creepy Hollow!
Bringing more than just a splash of colour to Birmingham, Joseph bursts onto the Hippodrome stage until 13 July.
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical theatre phenomenon is by no means a stranger to a UK audience, previously touring to great success in Birmingham and now opening a new production on the West End. This UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright ticks all the boxes. It’s simply a musical theatre spectacle, from its dynamic staging (Sean Cavanagh) to its bright, bold and beautiful lighting (Nick Richings), Joseph is brought to re-invigorated life.
Jaymi Hensley takes on the iconic title role. Finding fame in X Factorgroup Union J, Hensley is certainly destined for musical theatre. With an encapsulating performance and gorgeous vocals, he made for a brilliant Joseph.
Supported by a spectacular cast of brothers (Andrew Geater, Alex Hetherington, Arthur Boan, Ed Tunningley, Lewis Asquith, George Beet, Mikey Jay-Heath, Matt Jolly, Corey Mitchell, Joshua Robinson, Callum Connolly) these eleven talented actors not only showcased delightful harmonies, they executed the mesmerising choreography from HenryMetcalfe and Gary Lloydto drilled perfection, packed with energy. There were also some superb performances from Henry Metcalfe (Pothiphar / Jacob) and the aforementionedAndrew Geater, who also took on the role of Pharaoh. Plus the female ensemble of Anna Campkin, Amber Kennedy and Gemma Pipe multiroled wonderfully throughout the show.
Transitioning through a range of music styles, from calypso to French ballads and Elvis inspired rock ‘n’ roll to western music, it cements Joseph’s beauty as a musical. With the band on top form, the iconic songs were performed excellently, with special mention to the talented children’s choir and, of course, Trina Hillas the Narrator, who blew off the roof with her phenomenal vocals.
Colourful and camp, this superlative production left the audience on its feet.
Catch it at the Hippodrome until 13 July.
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