Posts Tagged With: Musical

Ghost the Musical

With the big press conference last week announcing the Spice Girls musical, the quiet confirmation that Ghost the Musical would be closing in October became louder amongst theatre goers.  Although many knew already, and others had heard rumours before the cast knew there’d been no big announcement and with the show having similar rumours state side (though hopefully with no truth) it could be that the journey for Ghost the Musical is coming to a more permanent end than what would be liked.

Some of you may remember when this blog first started I ranted and raved about this show – before I’d even seen it I was obsessed with the soundtrack and I got a chance to see it in October and loved it.  It’s a fantastic show and I can only recommend that people go see it while they have the chance.  I can only hope it tours as I think it’d do well – though they’d have to compromise with some of the set pieces that are just phenomenal.

Anyway, I wanted to post this blog to say go see it if you have the chance and also to post this video.  When Ghost the Musical first started it really embraced social media.  Before the show even premiered/previewed they streamed a showcase of the soundtrack live from Abbey Road – this video is a highlights package of that:

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Les Miserables – The Movie Trailer

The first trailer for the anticipated Les Miserables movie has been released today.  Anne Hathaway reveals her performance of I Dreamed a Dream as Fantine and we see glimpses of Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette.

I’ll be honest, I was sceptical of this when it was first announced, but the trailer has defiantly piqued my interest.  Looking forward to seeing more about the film in the future.

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I Dreamed a Dream….

First of all, let’s go back to April 11th 2009 when families gathered around their TVs to watch the first episode of a new series of Britain’s Got Talent.  During the episode, there was this audition…

It turned out that that lone audition would capture the entire world thanks to the power of YouTube and the Internet.  Now in 2012, a whole musical based around the life of Susan Boyle is touring the UK and last night I went to see the opening night of the show’s Birmingham run at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

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I have decided that this blog is going to be the most honest ‘review’ I’ll have given so far – as I cannot decide exactly what I thought of this show but that’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As I waited outside the theatre for the other half to arrive I noticed the demographic of the audience was an older crowd mainly middle aged ladies and their mothers (or husbands).  People walking past the theatre who weren’t attending scoffed at the idea of a Susan Boyle (affectively known as SuBo) musical and for a while I was in that camp too.  I couldn’t fathom how a musical based on SuBo would work and wondered if we’d have some actors hamming it up as Cowell and co for the audition.  However – the production surprised me and although there were moments when I did actually cringe, I left the theatre glad I had taken an evening to go see the show.

I didn’t always feel like that however.  In fact for the first 20 minutes I couldn’t wait for the interval and was considering whether to even bother sticking around for the second half, but once (and this sounds horrible) SuBo was being bullied it stated to turn a corner.  At times the imposing set of television screens and black glossy doors made too much of an impression, but on the whole it worked well, even if I did spend a lot of time trying to find the cameras filming reactions of actors for some of the screens.

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All the cast were fantastic.  Obviously Elaine C Smith in the role of Susan Boyle has to be mentioned.  Her singing was great with her performances of ‘Wild Horses’ and ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ sending tingles across the audience.  Her renactment of the famous audition was performed with precision and her portrayal of Susan losing her parents and her breakdown were with great emotion.  She told the story – in form of SuBo looking back at her life and narrating with clarity – although the constant clicking of fingers to freeze or switch action soon got tedious.  Other stand out performances include James Paterson as Mr Boyle, Karen Mann as Mrs Boyle and Ashleigh Gray as the ever dependable friend Lorraine.  

As for the music, it was a collection of songs from musicals, pop songs and hymns used to try link the story together.  On the whole it worked well with a haunting arrangement of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ to open the two acts and ‘This Will Be Our Year’ sang between SuBo and her mother to show her mother’s support.  However some of the arrangements weren’t too great and these were the moments I actually cringed such as the Blood Brothers’ inspired version of ‘Perfect Day’, the raggae ‘Mad World’ performed by the ensemble wearing Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan masks whilst holding newspapers to show the press attacks on SuBo and the chorus of Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ to show SuBo in rehab.  Another thing that bugged me about the music was that we never heard a whole song.  Yes, there are 31 songs listed in the programme – 23 of them in Act 1 alone – but it wouldn’t have hurt to have had a full version of ‘Wild Horses’ rather than cutting it after one verse and chorus when the audience are entrapped.

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One of the highlights for me was the scene prior to the audition with SuBo in the queue waiting to audition with a range of characters from musicians to a clown, to a trumpet player to a tapdancing group of ladies. As they wait they burst into ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ – one the more inspired song choices.

As I mentioned earlier the play was full of finger clicking to freeze or gather thoughts.  I felt this was the weakest aspect of the script which wasn’t the strongest to start off with.  Personally this let it down as it felt a bit school-play like with the freezing for a thought idea.  However, the script did tell the story well and I guess the thoughts were valuable to the story.  I just wish they’d come up with a more original idea to do this.  It would have been good too if they could have used Britain’s Got Talent branding – but guessing it would have been a mammoth task and very expensive to have done so.

I started this post saying I didn’t know what I thought of this show – and I still don’t.  However, I did send these tweets last night and this morning:

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And I think that’s my conclusion. It really is intriguing and at times surreal – especially the final 10 minutes when SuBo makes an appearance to perform a couple of songs.  I wanted to see this because I was curious.  I went in with no expectations and no idea what it was going to be like.  That was the best decision.  Yes, there were moments I didn’t like, but on the whole it was one of those shows that will stick with you for a long time – and for the right reasons.

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Oh yeah, and if you do see this show at the Birmingham Hippodrome this week do not attempt to take photos of SuBo at the end – the staff will pounce on you!!

I’m not going to rate this show – but it comes recommended.

‘The Susan Boyle Musical I Dreamed a Dream’ is on at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday.

The tour continues to Inverness and Manchester until June 23rd.  Information at the show’s website

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A Wonderful Show for a Wonderful Town

Apologies for my silence.  Things need to change and change they will.

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Anyway last night I was lucky enough to go see Bernstein’s Wonderful Town‘ at Birmingham Hippodrome.  The show, currently touring across the UK starring the ‘nation’s Maria’ Connie Fisher, isn’t one that I was attracted to in any way, and if it wasn’t for an invite on a day I wasn’t busy I probably wouldn’t have gone to see.  However, I quickly realised that my feelings towards this show were wonderfully wrong.

Wonderful Town is a traditional American musical – based in the 1950s we follow two sisters, Ruth (Fisher) and Eileen (Lucy van Gasse) who decide to come to New York from Ohio to seek their fortunes.  It’s a clichéd plot where two people move to a bigger city and their innocence is battled but all comes good in the end – but clichéd or not, it works well in this show.  There aren’t any complicated side plots, and the main plot you see coming a mile away, but it’s all good fun and the cast appear to be having a whale of a time on the stage.

Just thought of another title for this post – Wonderful by name, Wonderful by nature.  The show just gives itself awesome names for positive blogs and reviews!!

The design (by Simon Higlett) of the show is classic 1950s America.  Costumes are of the period, and the buildings depicted are classic skyscrapers from the era.  The colour purple is the main colour for the throngs of people – from purple suits to shiny purple trousers of writers to a purple desk with purple paper and purple side way sky scrapers showing the depth of the stage.  There is an early set piece in which the ensemble in their purple suits and orange gloves mould the first days in the city with tight cheography (by Andrew Wright) and direction which uses the set to its full potential.

The cast are brilliant – they all support each other and there isn’t one member letting the others down.  Connie Fisher is brilliant as Ruth, the sensible sister to Lucy van Gasse’s care free Eileen.  The two together have such a large range from Fisher’s lower tones to Gasse’s higher pitched singing and they work so well together, complimenting each other’s styles perfectly.  The main male character Bob Baker is played by Michael Xavier who’s lowest tones almost cause the theatre to vibrate!! There are such wonderful voices in this show – possibly the best cast in terms of singers I’ve seen in a very long time.  Other stand out performances include Nic Greenshields who plays the giant of a laundry expert Wreck Loomis and the artist landlord Mr Appopolous played by Sevan Stephan.  The ensemble are fantastic – with the opening of Act 2 to go down in comedy legend with their portrayal of the New York police department…. (won’t spoil it for you – but the accents are all brilliant!)  The only downside to the show is that the few slower songs/ballads don’t necessary suit the show and slow the action down, but it’s only a small point and with this cast they make those songs great!

Wonderful Town is a great show – and should be amongst the American classics but is overshadowed by the likes of Bernstein’s other musical hit West Side Story.  It’s definitely worth a trip to the theatre – even if the weather is getting better outside!!

4.5 Big Apples out of 5

Tour stays in Birmingham until Saturday 26th May – Ticket information can be found at the Birmingham Hippodrome website.  Then moves onto Southampton, Norwich, Newcastle, Woking, Plymouth and Cardiff ending on 7th July 2012.  More tour information at the Wonderful Town website.

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next to normal

An apt name for a blog post that’s appearing out of the middle of nowhere!! I keep saying that I’ll get back to blogging on here as I intend to and keep thinking of things to blog but then get waylaid.  Anyways, next to normal isn’t the title of a blog about trying to get back into the swing of things, it is instead the name of a musical I discovered quite by accident yesterday (after seeing a still image on someone’s tumblr from one of the numbers) that I’m slowly getting obsessed with.

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next to normal is a rock musical (how I hate that phrase) with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey with music by Tom Kitt.  It focus is on a mother who struggles with her worsening bipolar disorder and hallucinations which of course have a major effect on her family.  As the musical progresses her daughter goes off the rails, her marriage suffers and she finds out the truth about her son.

Without giving anything else away (the synopsis is on wiki if you’re desperate as well as some grainy attempt at recording the show in the theatre) it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster of a show, with some amazing music and songs that infect your mind.  From what I’ve seen online productions in New York (both off and on Broadway) have had fantastic casts and design.  This is a contemporary music in every sense.  I’d love for it to make a move over to the UK and see it for myself.

This performance from the 2009 Tony Awards of ‘You Don’t Know/I Am The One’ is just one example of why this is such a great show.

 

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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

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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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From the Archive of sorts…. Matilda The Musical

As many of you are aware, the RSC is bringing Matilda the Musical to the West End in the next few weeks with it opening on the 18th October.  I was lucky enough to see it a couple of times when it was at Stratford last Christmas.  The first time I saw it prompted me to write this mammoth blog about it.  It’s not really a review and might be a bit spoilery at times.  

So I thought, to continue the theme of Matilda posts I seem to be going through at the moment I’d share this with you! 

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So, last night I trundled along to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre for the third performance of their Christmas show, Matilda, The Musical.

Boasting music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, a book by Dennis Kelly and based on one of Roald Dahl’s most loved stories the show is promising from the outset.  And to be honest, by the time 10:05pm came along and the show ended, I still wanted more!!

As the show is still in the preview stage there may well be a few changes before it officially opens, but as it stands the show is almost flawless.  The performance I saw had Adrianna Bertola in the title role of Matilda.  At only 11 years old she carries the whole show on her shoulders and has a huge amount of responsibility to ensure that the audience are involved in the story at all times.  She also has the almighty role of telling a heart wrenching story to the librarian, Mrs Phelps (played be Melanie La Berrie) about a…. well that will give it away, but the story forms the main sub plot of the show.  Talking about Mrs Phelps, she is like the grandmother Matilda yearns for and is the warm Caribbean older lady we all know.

 

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Those familiar with the book will be aware that Matilda’s family don’t really care about Matilda.  In the show Mr Wormwood, her dad played fantastically by Paul Kaye (better known to some as Dennis Pennis) is the victim to the pranks set up by Matilda and uses his comedic background to full advantage throughout the whole production – including the interval…. (don’t take too long getting your merchandise in the interval.) Mrs Wormwood (Josie Walker) is now a wannabe champion dancer and her dancing partner Rudolpho (Matthew Malthouse) is an addition to the story.  Rudolpho is an interesting addition.  He has a welcome purpose to occupy Mrs Wormwood and make her more of a character, but he does seem to outstay his welcome a little bit towards the end.  However Mrs Wormwood and Rudolpho do perform a song called ‘Loud’ which is, as you can imagine, loud and is very different to the tone of the rest of the show.  A slight disappointment to the Wormwood family is Michael.  It’s been a while since I read the book but I remember him as, though not very clever, very eager to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In the show though he becomes very Kevin the Teenager-esque but with tourettes… 

One thing that never disappoints however is Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull.  From Miss Trunchbull’s first appearance to the character’s (I don’t want to call Miss Trunchbull her or him!) downfall, Carvel is a domineering force to be reckoned with.  Miss Honey, however, is the complete opposite.  Played by (the sometimes spitting image of Meryl Streep) Lauren Ward she is sweet (as her cottage says), caring, and completely innocent.  Ward has an amazing voice and she portrays any emotion that Minchin’s songs convey and is so utterly believable.  Having done a lot of character work between the two teachers in many job interviews (for those that don’t know I’m a primary teacher) I could identify every trait that the characters have.  

 

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The children in the show are all amazing! Considering it was the third preview, and there are three sets of children it is quite possible that the performance I saw was the first time they had performed.  The role of Bruce, the chocolate cake eating lad was played by Kuan Frye.  Bruce has a much bigger role in the musical and this is a very good thing!! One of the funniest moments comes from Bruce just moments before the famous chocolate cake eating moment…. all I shall say is watch the purple spot…. Also Lavender, Matilda’s best friend is unbelievably cute! I think I saw Ruby Bridle as Lavender (I’m not too sure though – would be good if the RSC could number the children’s casts as 1 2 and 3 and say which is performing and make it known in the program which group which child is in but that’s just me being picky).  Think Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders and that was Lavender. 

Reading the bios of the child cast there are some very seasoned young people.  There is one who was in the best film of last year, Nativity! There’s Jake Pratt, a regular on the Paul O Grady show and lots of former Mary Poppins, Oliver and Chitty children.  The whole cast are fantastic and the older members work alongside the younger seamlessly.

 

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Tim Minchin has written some fantastic songs for the show.  The opening number showcases the children from the outset, Miss Honey’s songs show the character at her best and the big ensemble numbers really help carry the story along.  He also challenges the young actors.  The second number of the show, and Matilda’s first song is called ‘Naughty’.  It’s a lengthy song and Matilda is literally the only person on the stage for the whole song.  It’s a fantastic song and channels Matilda’s thoughts and reasons behind doing her pranks on her father.  The staging of the songs also help to stress how good Michin’s work is.  For example ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ which involves lots of gym mats and other equipment is then suddenly frozen for the amazingly, lyrically complicated for anyone yet alone an 11 year old, ‘Quiet’.  However, the song that has stuck in my head (maybe more so as its the song on the preview video I posted yesterday) is the song ‘When I Grow Up’ which opens Act 2. It’s good when sung by Minchin but so much better when sung by the cast.

 

One of the challenges that the story brings to those bringing it to the stage is the magic and the Trunchbull punishments.  You’ll be glad to hear that Lavender is still thrown, the cake still eaten and that the glass of water still tips.  However, although the chalk still moves… (and I can’t write anymore about that – I still want to be able to go to the theatre!)  The design is fantastic.  Quentin Blake’s illustrations have been a key feature to the design.  Miss Trunchbull IS Miss Trunchbull from the book.  Mr Wormwood has the ugly suit and the hair from the book and Blake even designed the school badges that adorn he school gates and blazers of the uniforms.  The set is covered in scrabble pieces with those around the orchestra having musical notes.  The sets are very ‘square’ like scrabble tiles, and words play a large part in the design.  The lighting works fantastically – especially during Matilda’s story to Miss Phelps which, when it reaches it’s conclusion has a fantastic piece of… (once again I’m not going to say!).

 

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Kelly has written a fantastic adaptation that suits Minchin’s music and lyrics perfectly.  The design fits right in and the choreography is challenging (sometimes very Spring Awakening) but perfect.  There are a couple of minor issues – the last song takes a while to work and is sung by a brand new character which is kind of nodded to throughout so it doesn’t seem so important, which is a pain as it *is* the last song (they should sing When I Grow Up after they bow to remind us how good it is!) And I felt a tiny bit let down by the chalk… However it is a brilliant show.  I had goosebumps throughout, a smile across my face for pretty much all of it apart from the sad bits, and thinking about it today it is still fairly fresh in my mind (and I have a bad memory!)

It’s not quite a 10 out of 10, but too good to be a 9 out of 10 so I guess its about 9.8 out of 10.  If you can get to the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford then make a date to go see Matilda, The Musical.   However, if you have a phobia of swings don’t sit in the first couple of rows.

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Matilda the Musical Soundtrack – Track by Track

I have been waiting since the cold winter evening in January when my clutch broke driving back from Stratford to Birmingham for this soundtrack!! It was the second time I’d seen Matilda the Musical and had hoped it wouldn’t be the last.  Sadly it was to be the last time I saw it in it’s original home of Stratford but gossips of there being a soundtrack CD were already being shouted.  After the announcement of the soundtrack being released earlier this year and the news it would open in London, it caused much excitement in the fans of the musical and hopefully many more people will become fans of such a great show.

The CD listing suggests there’s been some changes – most notably the absense of Segai’s song ‘Perhaps a Child’ at the end, which when I saw it the second time saw the ending of the show changed quite a bit from the first.  Also missing is the ‘Chokey Chant’ but that was only a short number amd what with the creatives claiming Hortensia has been cut recently maybe the whole song will have made an exit.

Anyway, those questions can’t be answered until it’s opened but in the meantime I bring to you an AfterThe Curtain Comes Down Track by Track Soundtrack Review.

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First of all, can I just say now that I prefer the original production artwork as seen below.  The poster for the London production also contains Matilda on a swing and is a little bit better than the CD cover but I still prefer the Quinten Blake Matilda.  It also appears to have had a name change from Matilda A Musical to Matilda THE Musical.

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Anyway – to the music! Unlike the Ghost Musical track by track, I know the songs from Matilda.  It may have been a while since I last heard them but a lot of the tracks are unforgettable. 

TRACK 1: Miracle

If you know the story of Matilda, an opening number called Miracle may make you consider there’s a non linear story line here – but there isn’t.  Instead we see a group of children singing how they are praised by their parents and how they are the diamond in their families.  Inbetween we meet Mr & Mrs Wormwood (who is now a ballroom dancer and competitor) who are in the hospital as Mrs Wormwood thinks she’s fat…. of course she’s preganant and we also find out their reactions to having Matilda…

A fantastic opening that introduces the family in an exciting way.  The children get a chance to shine from the start.  The staging in Stratford was awesome with so many things happening and hope it continues into London. 5/5

TRACK 2: Naughty

Seeing a show where the main character is a young girl makes you wonder how she is going to cope carrying a show on her shoulders.  You’d expect them to go easy on her…. but no! This is the first big solo from Matilda who also has to deliver a number of monologues and will hardly leave the stage and it’s a stonker of a song.  

Minchin manages to cram so much into this song without making it cluttered.  For thos familiar with the books it covers Matilda’s antics before she goes to school such as putting super glue into her Dad’s hat.  ‘Sometimes, you’ve got to be a little bit naughty’ will be on everyone’s minds after listening! 5/5

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TRACK 3: School Song

So, Matilda starts school and meets lots of children her own age who then meet the older children who send a stark warning to them.  This school isn’t the fun place that the parents have said but in fact it’s a scary, daunting prison… 

Not so obvious listening to it but there’s a great use of the alphabet in this song which when performed in Stratford was made a lot more prominant. The tone changes instantly with the song and the threat of mennace that the school has is brought across well.   4/5

TRACK 4: Pathetic

Miss Honey, so brilliantly played by Lauren Ward (who reminds me of a young Meryl Streep) shows how it’s not just the children who are scared in this school thanks to the formidable head, Miss Trunchbull.  A short, yet effective song and brilliantly performed. 5/5

TRACK 5: The Hammer

So Miss Trunchbull…. AMAZINGLY played by Bertie Carvel, gives us her back story as an Olympic and trophy winning hammer throwing and how she applies what she’s learnt from this in her ‘teaching’ and running of the school.  There is some brilliant juxtapositioning in this song from the boistrous to the choral and it helps to fill the character of Trunchbull. 5/5

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TRACK 6: Loud

I’ll be honest.  The first time I saw the musical this was the song I liked the least.  Mainly because it was the only thing that didn’t sit right with me with what was added to the story.  The sub plot of Mrs Wormwood being a dancer and her dancing partner Rudolpho’s involvement just didn’t agree with me.  Not as much as how the film of the book set it in America and ruined the story but I’m getting distracted.  

Anyway, Miss Honey visits the Wormwoods to tell them how amazing their daughter is, but Miss Wormwood is busy practising her dancing and Miss Honey gets dragged into it.  The song isn’t my favourite, but it’s very different to the rest and it stands out.  The second time I saw the show I’m convinced it had been changed slightly as I enjoyed it more and I have to say that listening to it does make me like it a bit more.  It’s a very hyper number with samba rythms defining it.  3/5

TRACK 7: This Little Girl

Another Miss Honey solo – one that shows us what sets her apart from any other teacher, recognising just how special and modest Matilda is and how she needs to react to it and act upon it.  It also sets up a theme for the rest of the show when it comes to Miss Honey and she finds herself being able to recognise herself in the situation.  It is a stunning and beautiful song. 5/5

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TRACK 8: Bruce

Ask people what their favourite part of Matilda is and I bet a large number will mention Bruce having to eat all of Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake.  Luckily it wasn’t forgotten in the musical and a whole song is dedicated to Bruce and his task of eating a whole, massive, gooey, chocolate cake…

Showing a force of child solidarity which get’s stronger as the show goes on the children perform a cheerful, supportive song of encouragement using very child like language and terms to poor Bruce.  There is no excuse, Bruce, to not like this song!  5/5

TRACK 9: Telly

In Stratford, many people would have missed this song.  It was hidden away in the interval allowing Paul Kaye (better known as TV’s Dennis Pennis) to showcase his comic skills and interact with the audience.  Whether it will have the same fate in London is yet to be known (likely as it has no real place in the flow of the plot) but don’t spend too long getting drinks/ice creams/going to the loo.

Mr Wormwood spreads the word that Telly is more useful then books and that you can learn more from sitting on your bum watching telly than reading a book. 4/5

TRACK 10: Entr’acte

Nice bit of instrumental. 3/5

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TRACK 11: When I Grow Up

From the get go – this is my favourite track and the staging is awesome.  I love this song.  That is pretty much all you need to know.  Also there’s a brilliant video which has a version with Minchin singing it (probably a demo of the song) and the RSC and Minchin really need to release that version too.  

This is just a great song.  Touching, funny and a great memorable way to open the second act.  You know how many I’m going to give it out of 5 yeah? Well you’re wrong – it’s going to get an extra mark.  Think of it like a star or a bonus point or something. 6/5 (yep 6 out of 5 – crazy!)

TRACK 12: I’m Here

So, this track seems a bit strange listening to it on the soundtrack – but in the show it makes a lot of sense.  I have also just realised that Melanie La Berrie criminally doesn’t get to sing on this soundtrack – I’m shocked.  The librarian, Mrs Phelps played by La Berrie is an amazing character and I didn’t notice that she doesn’t get to sing.  

Anyway, this is a haunting, dramatic number.  It drives a sub plot that isn’t in the book yet works so well with the musical as a whole.  It’s beautifully dark with a synister score. 4/5

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TRACK 13: The Smell of Rebellion

Trunchbull teaching a PE lesson… on stage hilarious on CD slightly not that interesting.  Not the greatest song to listen to as it relies on the performance but that’s what you get with soundtracks.  Many times I’ve heard a song that I didn’t really like then seen it performed and fallen in love!  It has a bit of a catchy chorus line but that’s all it has going for it. 3/5

TRACK 14: Quiet

A Matilda solo – and a stunning one at that.  Quiet tells of Matilda coming to terms with her new found powers and has such complicated lyrics for anyone yet alone a young girl to sing infront of an audience.   An example of the lyrics:

“I say, say ‘red’, for example, there’s no way of knowing if ‘red’ means the same thing in your head as ‘red’ means in my head when soemone says ‘red’?”

This is yet another beauty from Minchin.  I remember the audience being captivated by a young girl raised on a pedastool, singing this with noone making a noise in the theatre.  Hairs on backs of neck going up on end, goosebumps spreading across the balconies and general awe that such a young girl could give us such a great performance.  Some of thos feelings come back when listening to the soundtrack. 5/5

TRACK 15:  My House

Matilda shocked that Miss Honey lives in nothing more than a shack gets this wonderful response from Miss Honey.  With ‘It isn’t much, but it is enough for me‘ striking the thoughts of many of those listening/watching this song touches people in different ways to any of the other songs on the soundtrack of the show.  

The song effortlessly blends into a twist that those familiar with the story will know and into the other plots of the show.  This song is just beautiful and Lauren Ward gives a heart wrenching performance as Miss Honey. 5/5

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TRACK 16: Revolting Children

Road Dahl loved revolting things and it feels right that the word ‘revolting’ gets a strong place in this show.  Not only are the children revolting in the mind of the Wormwoods and Trunchbull but they are revolting against Trunchbull.

A fast paced, exciting, thrilling song that chronicles the downfall of Trunchbull.  Listening to it without the cut song ‘Perhaps a Child’ shows that this is the climax the show needed all along. 5/5

TRACK 17: When I Grow Up (Reprise)

Need I say more?! 5/5

 

This video has the Minchin version of When I Grow Up on it – it’s brillian!

Tomorrow I’ll post something from my past – a blog on the show which will help reinforce my love for this musical.  But the CD is a brilliant way to help me remember what a fantastic show this is.

Blurb Time….

The CD is avaliable from The RSC which can be found by going the the Matilda The Musical website.  The musical opens for previews on the 18th October in London at the Cambridge Theatre.  More information on the website (see link).

Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Orchestrations by Chris Nightingale
Dialogue by Dennis Kelly

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Underrated: Just So by Stiles & Drewe

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Based on Kipling’s Just So stories, Stiles & Drewe wrote an awesome musical following the elephant’s child on his quest to find out why the crab plays with the sea.  Along the way he help’s the zebra get her stripes, the giraffe get her spots, the kangaroo get his big legs and the rhino his saggy skin – as well as helping a few other animals.

Taking the form of an old magician telling the story to a child, the show starts with all the animals collecting a case with their name on who we meet along the journey.  A journey with a number of memorable songs.  The first time I saw this show at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2004 it became a favourite and I saw the production several times.  I’ve only seen one other production, a young Rep production in Birmingham which managed to compete well with the professional production in Chichester.  The Chichester production also produced the soundtrack album for the show.  John Barrowman appears on the soundtrack but wasn’t in the production, however Julie Artherton who has gone onto huge success in Avenue Q and Portrait of a Princess and in the coming month, Sister Act the Musical starred as the Kolokolo Bird. 

I can’t exactly pinpoint why Just So is a favourite of mine.  I think it caught me a time in my life where a traditional, funny, family-esque musical was needed.  When I first saw it I would have been deep in A Level revision and exams and I remember going to supervise some younger members of the youth theatre at Chichester.  Then using my youth theatre membership I managed to see it several times for very cheap or free with a number of different people and seeing how they reacted to it helped make it so memorable.  There was talk when it was in Chichester of it going to London and to a bigger audience but that sadly didn’t happen.  I would love to see a new production or even be involved with a new production… but that might be a long time away.

Just So is an awesome, yet underrated musical.  Here is one of my favourite songs from the show ‘The Limpopo River’:

 

 

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Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark

I have just come across this extended preview of the infamous Spider-Man musical and I have to say…. I would like to see it!  Saying that really surprises me, but it looks spactacular now they’ve had several months to iron out the difficulties and redo a large proportion of the script.  However I must say that the second song they feature looks more like a monsters gay bar than a number in a Spider-Man musical.  I love the look of the set and how the comic book aspect plays such a strong part, from the camera to the set.  The above video you can’t watch here but follow the link on the video to YouTube – it’s worth while.

To make up for the follow the link on the video, here’s a performance of ‘Rise Above’.  Enjoy!

 

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