Monthly Archives: October 2011

Chichester Festival Theatre – the book!

I know, you’re all waiting for blogs on Idina Menzel and Ghost the Musical – I know you’re all refreshing the blog every five minutes and sighing in frustration when nothing comes up then getting ready to throwing the computer out the window when I blog about something completely different.  Please don’t open that window – but bare with me as I will blog about them – hopefully within the week.  It’s been a tad busy (unusally) and things are going on the wayside.

Anyways, as you know, I have a very special relationship with Chichester Festival Theatre.  One of the best shows I’ve seen this year was Singin’ In The Rain there in August and next week I venture back down there to see Sweeney Todd with Micheal Ball playing the title role.  Next year it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary.  It doesn’t seem 10 years since I had my first driving lesson to a rehearsal for the youth theatre’s first main house production to celebrate 40 years (was not the best and it’s been wiped from history…. A Story About Listening was a bit of a disaster….).  Over the past 10 years it’s gone from strength to strength moving effortlessly away from becomming an ice rink as some Chichester residents were suggesting for it to become when it was going through some troubles.

To mark it’s milestone, the theatre are releasing a book, and much like how the theatre was founded is asking the public to help with it.  This video explains it.  My name’s going to be printed in it, if you value local theatre or Chichester, get yours in it too.

For more information go to http://unbound.co.uk/books/15

 

 

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Review: END OF THE RAINBOW @ Birmingham Hippodrome (on tour)

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End of the Rainbow, currently on at the Birmingham Hippodrome, tells the story of the the final tragic months of Judy Garland.  Far from her days as Dorothy, the Garland, played by (Olivier award nominee for best actress for this part) Tracie Bennett, shows us the Garland who couldn’t get through shows without the support of drugs and alchol and who allowed everyone around her to dictate what she should and could do while trying to repay her debts.  The tragic story is performed with immense drama but also contaibs hilarious (yet hearbreaking) comedy as Garland tries to make light of moments – such as when it turns out she’s downed a bottle of pills for a dog.

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Bennett is supported by Norman Bowman playing her fiance Mickey Deans and Hilton McRae as Anthony her trusted pianist.  Bowman shows how difficult Garland was to deal with as Deans deals with managing the global star as both her manager and lover, while McRae shows how Anthony tried to help Garland get out of the stressful situations.  A moving scene towards the end shows Anthony trying to get Garland to leave Deans and move with him to Brighton where they could lead a platonic but loving life by the sea.  When Deans enters and demands to know what’s happening, Garland simply says they were saying goodbye, leaving Anthony heartbroken knowing that she was sealing her fate.  Each actor brings life to these real characters and pull at the appropriate heart strings to make the audience believe they are seeing it actually happening infront of them. 

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I would love to go on and on about this show – but on this occassion I can’t.  I can’t fault it and I can’t sing it’s praises highly enough and I don’t want to ruin anything for you by adding spoilers! I know that’s rare of me, but on this occassion I can’t do it.  It is a stunning show.  It was nothing like I expected it to be, and although I had heard great things before I had no real expectations – but I was blown away.  Bennett really steals the show and her Garland is near perfect.  There is a lot of pain but also some genuine laughs.  

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So yeah, a short, brief review but this show is awesome and if you can see it before it goes to Broadway (of course with Bennett) then do so.  It’s got a few more dates on it’s tour so if it comes near you then get some tickets.

End of the Rainbow gets 5 stars out of 5

http://www.endoftherainbowtour.com/wordpress/wp-content/themes/endoftherainbow/_global/swf/player.swf

End of the Rainbow is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 22nd October 2011.  

It then travels to Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Bath, Sheffield and then Richmond until 26th November.

Information can be found at http://www.endoftherainbowtour.com/tour/

 

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Review: LEGALLY BLONDE @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (on tour)

First things first, this is a review – but you know me – I ramble.  Maybe skip to the end if you want a quick look at a score!

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I feel as though I’ve been on quite a journey with Legally Blonde – having been in New York around the latter days of it’s run on Broadway I avoided seeing it.  I thought it’d be a bit too cheesey and as I hadn’t seen the film at that point only knew the name and how pink it was.  

Fast forward a year and it was announced that it would be coming to London with Sheridan Smith in the lead role of Elle.  Sheridan Smith is an amazing actress.  Having seen her in a variety of roles (mainly comedy) on TV I had grown to become, not exactly a fan, but interested in her work.  I liked the facebook page for the show and there was a competition to go along to the press launch at Cafe de Paris.  I entered… and I won!  I found myself in London with a friend of mine on a cold autumnal day queueing up along the outside of KFC next to Cafe de Paris wondering what the hell we were actually going to witness.  As it turned out we had an introduction from producer Sonia Friedman then had the newly assembled cast perform a few songs for us, including Sheridan Smith singing ‘So Much Better’ just a few feet away from us.  As well as mini handburgers and other snacks and drinks and a free goody bag, that was my Legally Blonde experience over for a while.

Skip forward 10months or so and I end up outside the Savoy Theatre ready to finally see the show which I will admit – I loved!! Any doubts I had about it went out of the window and I fell head over heels for Sheridan Smith.  So much so it’s the only show I’ve ever been to where I’ve been to the stage door after to get an autograph and photo (and she told me she loved my jacket – win!)

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SO when I heard the show was touring, I knew I wanted to go see it – but due to ticket prices, ridiculously high booking fees and an impending trip to London it wasn’t looking great.  Luckily (and I seem to be a lucky bugger accoriding to this post – I’m not by the way) I won a pair of tickets to the opening night on Twitter.

So you know that I love the show – and that hasn’t changed.  I’ve seen tour productions of productions I’ve seen the full London show for before and know that there will be changes to the set and possibly the show itself and so I was fully aware that there’d be changes.  Big changes include no Delta Nu house, but just a door way; Elle’s original entrance; Paulette’s smaller shop; and a lack of a caravan.  These changes don’t change the show and if you haven’t seen the original you wouldn’t know.  Talking of the set though (and we did have a few techincal difficulties the night we saw it – but it didn’t affect the show) I had one huge bug bear about it.  The flats which tradtionally would be black were red.  It didn’t look right, and at times stuck out when I guess they should have just blended in with the set.

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(L-R: Claire Sweeney (Paulette), Neil Toon (Warner), Faye Brookes (Elle), Iwan Lewis (Emmett), and Dave Willetts (Professor Callahan))

The cast were fantastic.  My heart willalways be with Sheridan for the role of Elle, but Faye Brookes was brilliant.  She was more Reese Witherspoon than Sheridan’s portrayal and she conveyed Elle’s innocence and belief that she could get where she wanted by citing love as the reason for her to get by.  Neil Toon and Iwan Lewis (Warner Huntington the Third and Emmett Forrest respectively) also did stirling jobs as the two central male roles and love interests with Dave Willetts impressing the audience as Professor Callahan.   Claire Sweeney was awesome as Paulette and provided some brilliant moments of comedy.   The rest of the ensemble were fantastic and noone lost any energy throughout the show.

The show was fantastic – though sadly the experience during the first act wasn’t.  Through no fault of the theatre, a couple were sat a couple of rows infront one of which was a drunk French man.  They spent much of the first half talking loudly and passing a wine bottle in a loud Sainsbury’s bag between each other.  After allerting the staff we then had a fantastic steward standing guard ready to shine her torch at them whenever they got noisy again.  She then offered to move us to another section of the theatre and was hugely apologetic.  Luckily the couple didn’t return for the second half, but I just wanted to make sure I included this into this post.  If this blog get’s hugely successful may even consider something to congratulate the great and mighty theatre staff of the land…

ANYWAYS, I love the show.  I would recommend anyone who can’t make it to London to make sure they see the tour.  If you can make it to London, bypass the tour and go straight to London.

4.5 *clicks* out of 5

http://www.legallyblondethemusical.co.uk/tour/connectwp/wp-content/themes/legallyblonde/library/swf/player-licensed-viral.swf

Legally Blonde: On Tour is at The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham until October 15th.

It then travels to Manchester, Torquay, Nottingham and Sunderland until the end of the year, beginning again in 2012 in Southend.  The tour continues through to June 2012.

More information can be found at http://www.legallyblondethemusical.co.uk/tour/

*Snaps!*

 

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