Saturday, May 25

REVIEWS

Jesus Christ Superstar – The Lowry
North West

Jesus Christ Superstar – The Lowry

The musical phenomenon that is 'Jesus Christ Superstar' graces the stage at The Lowry this week. With well-known lyrics by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber this version was initially performed at London's Regent's Park open air theatre and received an Olivier for best reimagined production in 2017. Directed by Alli Coyne, the story retells the final days of the life of Jesus up to his crucifixion. It is a revamped modern version and, in many ways, feels darker and ‘edgier’ than previous productions. It is perhaps the version that feels more ‘rock opera’ when compared to other productions and this adds to its success. From the opening scene of a guitar solo- there is a  an intention that the audience are watching a rock concert depicting the final days of Jesus Christ to his crucif...
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – New Wimbledon Theatre
London

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – New Wimbledon Theatre

The show opened in a blast of action, the headlights of racing cars zooming along, celebrating winners and fearing the losers, moving swiftly to a scene of an old disused car abandoned in Coggins yard. The children, Jemima played by Gracie Cochrane and Jeremy, Roshan Thomson were true to the likeness of the original children in Flemings’ book and it was not long before Truly Scrumptious played by Ellie Nunn and Caractacus Potts Adam Garcia appeared, to the delight of the audience. The puppeteers controlled the dogs seamlessly and interacted well with the actors providing an air of artistic flare, especially during the scenes of mayhem in Lord Scrumptious sweet factory. Grandpa Potts played by Liam Fox together with Ellie and Adam’s performances were true to the original screenplay cast wh...
Come From Away – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Come From Away – Birmingham Hippodrome

I’d never heard of Gander and I probably couldn’t put my finger on Newfoundland without Google Maps but in the week following the 911 in attacks in 2001 38 planes were redirected from their intended destination and landed there instead. 7000 passengers unexpectedly arrived on the island and this is their story. Not the most obvious subject for a musical or is it…? “Come From Away” opened in San Diego in 2015 and, after moving to Broadway, went on to win Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, Best Actress and Best Direction - quite clearly the ideal subject for a musical, then. In the safe hands of composer/lyricist Irene Sankoff and husband, David Hein, both of whom where in New York when the twin Towers fell, “Come From Away” has proved itself a heart-warming and humbling work whi...
Here You Come Again – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Here You Come Again – Leeds Playhouse

‘What would Dolly do?’ That’s the premise for the UK version of a musical comedy based on some of the greatest songs from country music’s undoubted queen Dolly Parton and one of the all-time great songwriters in any genre. Asking that question is fortysomething Kevin marooned in his parent’s attic during lockdown after splitting up with his boyfriend and his furlough pay is coming to an end. His boyhood room is a shrine to Dolly and as if by magic - or his subconscious - the relentlessly upbeat country and gay icon pops up to help her flamboyant, but secretly floundering, superfan find his way. This is not only a love letter to a big hearted philanthropist who has distributed 150 million free books to kids because her beloved daddy couldn’t read, but to a hall of fame songwriter ...
The Book of Grace – Arcola Theatre
London

The Book of Grace – Arcola Theatre

This is an outstanding production of a gripping drama, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks in 2009. The Arcola Theatre presents the UK premiere of a revised version, with an all-black cast. The play tells the story of Vet and his second wife Grace who live on the Texas Mexico border. They receive a visit from Vet's son Buddy,  who has been away and out of contact for 15 years. He has returned for his father's award ceremony, recognition for his single-handedly having detained a large group of illegal migrants on the border. The border runs through Vet's life: he is a very proud member of the border force, his house is within sight of the border fence and he has a live stream of the fence playing in his house. Borders generally are very important to Vet...
The Audience – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse
North West

The Audience – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Back in 2013, well before ‘The Crown’ became a Netflix sensation, Peter Morgan wrote ‘The Audience’. This reimagining of the weekly meetings that take place between the monarch and her first twelve Prime ministers was a smash hit in both the West End and on Broadway, garnering Olivier and Tony awards for Helen Mirren in her role as Elizabeth II. Altrincham Garrick Playhouse has now taken up the challenge of producing this deep dive into post war British history, resulting in a sumptuous and informative production sprinkled with excellent performances. The set (Barry Purves) could not be simpler; two chairs on a bare stage - which Equerry (Howard Yaffe) informs us may or may not be Hepplewhite - allow Queen Elizabeth (Ros Greenwood) and her various Prime Ministers to illustrate politica...
Peebles Orchestra – The Leckie Memorial Church, Peebles
Scotland

Peebles Orchestra – The Leckie Memorial Church, Peebles

Until recently, the Scottish Borders was the only region in Europe without a rail service. I wonder if this lack of transport infrastructure led to a necessary blossoming of home-grown talent of exceptional quality. Peebles Orchestra, formed in 1976, plays a key role in the town's cultural life. Teamwork is found not just on the rugby pitch in the Borders. This collection of enthusiasts prove that talent has no bounds and a job outside of your musical passion is no obstacle to a desire for excellence. The Orchestra is fortunate to attract such prestigious names as Robert Dick to conduct. Dick’s international reputation has taken him around the globe and seen him collaborate with such distinguished soloists as Nicola Benedetti, Steven Isserlis, Anna-Liise Bezrodny and Murray McLachla...
Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s Globe
London

Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare’s enduringly delightful tale of wit-crossed lovers enlivens The Globe Theatre this summer, pouring Mediterranean sun into every darkened crevice of that wooden “O”. Directed by Associate Artistic Director Sean Holmes and composed of an energetic cast of young actors, this production is both brash and bashful. The convivial environment of the open-air theatre is well suited to these frolicsome festivities and each of its performers seem intent upon maximizing the audiences delight in their collective spectacle. From the processional marches of the visiting Don Pedro and his crew of lovesick soldiers to the courting dances of Leonato and his bevy of irreverential young maidens, every opportunity for mirth is here seized. Led in their revelry by the ever-at-war and never-in-lo...
Wifi-Sexual – Greenwich Theatre
London

Wifi-Sexual – Greenwich Theatre

"WiFi-Sexual" is “an outrageously dark romcom" that explores the concept of being in a relationship with AI. In our modern world, AI like Alexa, Google Home, and even Tesco’s self-checkout machines are integrated into our daily lives. But have you ever considered dating your AI tool? This show promises to explore what that could look like. The first act opens with laugh-out-loud comedy, highlighting the perks and challenges of being in a relationship with technology. It starts by depicting the craving for intimacy while hearing another's sexual encounters. The story centres on an awkward individual navigating the dating world, struggling to meet others and definitely not ready for the open conversations that his AI tool, Mandy, was ready to have with him, including very vocal phone sex...
Rush – Floral Pavilion
London

Rush – Floral Pavilion

Not your average theatre show, Rush brought a taste of Jamaica to New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion on Saturday night – billed as a joyous Jamaican journey, did it deliver? Narrated by witty stand-up comedian John Simmit, this is an uplifting tale of Jamaican history and the story of the ever-inspiring Windrush generation, peppered with an array of music from the nation over the years. There were plenty of tunes from Aswad, Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker and more performed by a talented band, alongside lead singers IKA and Janice Williamson whose voices were enough to stun the lively audience into silence at times. That silence didn’t last long, however. From uproarious laughter to dancing in the aisles, the crowd lapped up every moment of the show – especially the political moments, of wh...