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.
Based on the 1992 movie, the musical adaptation of The Bodyguard first made it to the stage in 2012. Following critical success, the show is currently on a UK tour, stopping off at Wolverhampton Grand until 6 July.
Global superstar Rachel Marron is being unknowingly stalked, so her team employ former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer. However, following initial tension between the two, they find themselves falling in love with each other.
This stage adaptation is jam-packed with iconic Whitney Houston hits, beautifully performed by this exceptionally talented cast. Within the confines of a brilliantly versatile set, designed by Tim Hatley (who also designed the stunning costumes), the story flits from scene to scene effortlessly, perfectly framing the action.
Leading the way as Rachel Marron is the superb Jennlee Shallow. Her breath-taking performance kept the audience enthralled throughout and her pairing with Benoît Maréchal as Frank, pulsed with romantic chemistry. He even pulled the laughs with his hilarious rendition of a karaoke version of I Will Always Love You.
Phil Atkinson’s unnerving portrayal of the Stalker kept the audience on the edge of their seats, whilst there was an utterly endearing cameo from the exceptionally talented young actor as Fletcher.
However, it was the understated, yet gorgeous vocals of Micha Richardson as Nicki Marron which really stood out tonight. Her warmth filled the stage and her voice soared through the auditorium. Alongside Jennlee Shallow they formed a formidable pair.
Eye-popping choreography from Karen Bruce complemented the energetic orchestra – under the musical direction of Michael Riley– with all these elements being pulled together by director Thea Sharrock.
There are so many noteworthy moments in this gorgeously crafted show, not only is it true to the film, but on a nostalgic note it highlights Houston’s undeniable legacy that she has left behind.
Toe tapping glitz as Sweet Charity takes us on her search for love........
It was all toe tapping numbers and nightclub glitz at The Core Theatre tonight as the audience of Queensbridge Musical Theatre Society took us into the world of the Fandango House Dance Hall in New York with their production of Sweet Charity, by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields.
It was interesting to read in the programme that there were a number of debuts among the cast and the production team. The Director Leonie Jai Hamilton and Choreographer Natalie Baines were making their respective debuts on the production side, whilst Sarah Odom (playing the lead role of Charity) and Michelle Farrugia (playing the role of Ursula) were treading the boards for the first time as Principals with QMTS. However there was no evidence of this, as all the debutantes acquitted themselves with aplomb.
The role of Charity Hope Valentine, the dance hall hostess looking for love, was played with assured conviction by Sarah Odom. It is an extremely demanding role, as the character is hardly ever off the stage, and Sarah was more than up to the task, dancing, singing and acting her way with energy through Charity's attempts at finding love and very nearly achieving it. The bright and optimistic facets of Charity's character were really put across throughout the show.
Her co-dancers at the Fandango House Dance Hall, Nickie and Helene, were played well by Karina Harris and Emily Fouracre, and Paul Stait particularly charmed the audience with his performance as Vittorio Vidal, the famous actor who Charity spends an evening with.
The troubled Oscar, who Charity falls in love with, was played with assurance by Sam Troke, and they both acquitted themselves well in the elevator scene.
There are some big toe tapping numbers in this show, most notably 'Big Spender' and 'The Rhythm of Life', and these were delivered with gusto and confidence by the cast. There was some excellent singing throughout, with tight harmonies and good diction. All the musical numbers were sung with enthusiasm and accuracy by the well drilled cast.
The set was very minimalistic but it worked very well and it meant that the production ran seamlessly throughout.
The storyline is sometimes hard to inject with energy, as it is rather lacking in substance at times, but the entire cast, ably assisted by the excellent band led by Stephen Greenway, did very well with what is sometimes a challenging plot line. Credit really must go to everyone involved in this production for an entertaining and lively show.
BMOS Musical Theatre Company take to The Alexandra’s stage this week with their latest production, Half A Sixpence. Following a successful run in the West End in 2016, receiving critical acclaim, numerous awards and nominations, this production has done the rounds on the community theatre circuit ever since. Based on the novel ‘Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul’ by H G Wells, this rag to riches story follows Arthur Kipps who inherits a fortune, but soon realises that money can’t buy love or happiness.
It is a fantastic vehicle for a leading man, especially as the musical was originally written for Tommy Steele who featured in 12 of the 15 numbers. In this new version (by Warner Brown), Kipps appears in an impressive 18 out of 24 numbers, quite the feat for Daniel Parker, who takes on the role with great aplomb. A typical cheeky chappie, his enduring performance and great voice held the show together excellently.
There was an abundance of supporting talent from this incredibly large ensemble cast, who filled the vast Alexandra stage. The sextet of shop boys and girls (Neil Ward, Alex Nicholls, Andrew Treacy, Morgan Bebbington, Rosie Harvey and Charlotte Boyer) showcased impressive harmonies throughout, particularly highlighted in the Economy (Reprise)near the close of the show. Plus, there were some notable performances from Carys Wilson(Helen), Jo Smith(Mrs Walsingham) and Lee Navin(Walsingham).
However, two further standout performances of the night came from Annabel Pilcher as Ann and Jake Genders as Chitterlow. Pilcher’s stunning voice filled the auditorium and her gritty performance of I Know What I Am was a real show-stealer. Meanwhile, Genders flamboyancy was an utter joy, encompassing the role of Chitterlow hilariously.
Most importantly, it must be remembered that this was very much an ensemble show, which was perfectly illustrated in Flash, Bang, Wallop– dealing with such an iconic number, the cast nailed it, in slick, drilled fashion, under the choreographic direction of Suzi Budd.
Directed by Stephen Duckhamand musically directed byDavid Easto, the cast and creative team of BMOS have brought to life this 1960s musical with great sophistication. It has, what you might call…finesse.
Half A Sixpence plays at The Alexandra until Saturday.
Playing in London since 2009, on its 10th anniversary the show has embarked on a UK tour stopping off at The Alexandra this week.
Celebrating the music of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson, this musical revue is a whistle stop tour through the ‘King of Pop’s’ music catalog. Set against a backdrop of digital projections and ingenious lighting, the show is packed with a cast of talented vocalists and dancers.
Under the astute musical direction of Andy Jeffcoat, the band flew through the numbers with superb precision, featuring a superb guitar solo from Allan Salmon. As Jackson’s music pulsed through the auditorium, the sensational vocalists came into their own. A quartet of superlative skill, Nick James, Britt Quentin (who’s also Resident Director on the show), Rory Taylor and Leticia Hector delivered each song expertly.
Some particular highlights included the Jackson 5 medley of I’ll Be There / I Want You Back / ABC, Blame it on the Boogie, Human Nature, as well as notable performances from Rory Taylor in She’s Out Of My Life, Britt Quentin in Man in the Mirror and Nick James and Leticia Hector in I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.
Alongside the talented vocals, there was equally impressive dancing on display. With sublime choreography from Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd, the ensemble of dancers executed well drilled moves with exquisite skill. There were standout performances from both Daniel Bradford and Savannah Darnell, however it was the wondrous talents of Kieran Alleyne as the Lead Dancer who shone the brightest on stage. His equally impressive vocals left you in awe and he led the titular number expertly.
There were so many fantastic moments, it’s hard to list them all in one review, so grab yourself a ticket and catch this show. It really is one not to miss.
Shrek the Musical
Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Coventry Musical Theatre Society
23rd – 26th May 2019
Shrek the musical is based on the family favourite animated films by Dreamworks. Coventry Musical Theatre Society bring this Coventry Premiere to the stage with their usual polish and style.
It is a big challenge to bring a large amount of story book characters to life, but it was executed brilliantly The favourite characters from the film are all there, 3 little pigs, Pinocchio, gingerbread man, 3 blind mice, the wolf and of course Donkey, Fiona and Shrek. The actors balanced being faithful to the film with bringing their own thing to the part, everything you would expect from the characters was there, but they weren’t copies or impressions, there was something of the actor there too.
Some of the comedy highlights were provided by Lord Farquaad, Craig Garner. What he lacked in height he made up for in presence and a polished delivery, the ballad of Farquaad was a joy. The dragon was amazing, brought to life by several puppeteers and stunning vocals from Hannah Roberts. Young Fiona was a delight to watch, with energy, poise and a great voice she is someone who is bound to go far. Adult Fiona (Emma Wilde) portrayed the two sides of Princess Fiona wonderfully. Connor Clifford’s Donkey bounded around the stage as he guided Shrek on the right path, he was the perfect companion to Shrek played by Dan Peet. Dan was Shrek, he was scary and vulnerable, he brought out the comedy and the sentiment, all while wearing ogre head gear and huge shoes.
There were great performances from all the cast, the story book characters a total delight bringing smiles and laughs. The choreography by Sue Biddle had something for everyone and included tap dancing mice and prisoners dancing in stocks.
This is a very colourful production; the costumes are bright and add an extra pop to the show. The detail in every costume from the main principals to the chorus is wonderful. The sets and lighting also add to that fairy-tale feel.
All but one of the songs in this show is original which helps to tell the story through the songs as well as the script. There is humour throughout, the children in the audience were giggling away in all the right places and having a great time. Adults needn’t worry there are the odd lines in there for them too. At 2 hours 30 (including interval) it may be a little long for younger children but there is enough to keep them entertained, there are no pauses during set changes, and everything runs smoothly and quickly.
This production under the direction of Steve Boden proves once again that the word “amateur” isn’t a reflection on the quality of a performance. This show is full of heart, humour and talent. With limited availability on tickets, don’t hesitate to book for a half term treat.
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