Following a sold-out UK premiere at Southwark Playhouse last year, rock musical THE TOXIC AVENGER transfers to the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited ten-week season from 28 September to 3 December 2017.
Ahead of August’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change reunion, we catch up with the musical’s composer, Jimmy Roberts, about the musical comedy’s enduring appeal, his long-running collaboration with Joe DiPietro and his upcoming projects including a new musical about Rex Harrison and Noel Coward.
Hartshorn-Hook Productions is thrilled to announce the reunion of last year’s critically-acclaimed cast – Simon Lipkin, Gina Beck, Julie Atherton and Samuel Holmes – in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. The production, nominated for Best Revival in last year’s Broadway World Awards, will return for two performances at the West End’s Arts Theatre on Monday 15 August 2016.
To describe the show as tongue in cheek could almost be an obtuse reference to the grotesque prosthetic (good work from Jonathan Moriarty North’s studios) that Anderson sports as Toxie. But this musical’s not to be taken seriously and it’s only to be seen by those who share that guilty pleasure of liking their comedy served bloody, with a large helping of political incorrectness on the side.
The Toxic Avenger, the sci-fi rock ‘n’ roll musical comedy from the writers of Memphis the Musical, receives its European premiere at London’s Southwark Playhosue, where it runs from 22 April to 21 May 2016, with a press night on 26 April. The production is directed by Benji Sperring, with musical direction by Alex Beetschen, lighting by Nic Farman and …
Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Based on the book by Joe DiPietroDirected by Karen Bruce
Love Me Tender’s Ensemble
Based on the music of Elvis Presley, Love Me Tender is a juke-box musical that tells several love stories at the same time and all set in “a small town no-one’s ever heard of in the middle of nowhere.” We’re introduced to its inhabitants who are resigned to a life of enforced conservatism and where frivolities such as music, dancing and “public necking” are all forbidden – until the arrival of Ben Lewis’ Chad, an Elvis-esque roustabout to shake things up.
At times the story verges on the ridiculous, particularly in the second half when the plot races desperately towards a conclusion that reconciles eight characters’ love stories. Yet it’s not entirely formulaic. There is an element of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night thrown into the mix, as Natalie (Laura Tebbutt) masquerades as Ed which in turn delivers a surprising and pleasing splash of female empowerment as she exercises a choice that utilises the confidence and freedom she found as Ed.
The cast led by Mica Paris and Shaun Williamson is incredibly strong across the board, with several standout singers including Tebbutt and Mark Anderson ensuring that the production is not overly reliant on the big hitters. Though when Paris takes the stage for her solo, the effect is one of awe; her voice is truly incredible.
The musical arrangements are well done and rock and roll is neatly packaged up for the theatre. The choreography (Karen Bruce and Elliot Nixon) captures the retro vibe while injecting it with a dose of the contemporary.
Morgan Large’s set design is complex and ambitious, but the risks more than pay off. There are also several memorable and comic human set fixtures, such as two ranch-style doors held by two actors, which swing open and shut to mark the entrances and exits of several characters.
Although the main focus of the story is love’s ability to conquer all, the cheesiness is often offset by lots of clever wit and dry humour, delivered with perfect comic timing.
At Bromley this week, before heading out on tour – Love Me Tender makes for a fabulous night in the theatre!
Guest reviewer: Bhakti Gajjar
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