Mates blogger: Jonathan Baz

Jonathan Baz is one of over 45 theatre bloggers who are part of the MyTheatreMates collective. This page features Jonathan's posts on MyTheatreMates. Take a look at our full list of theatre bloggers and our aggregated feed of all our Mates' posts. We’re always looking for new theatre bloggers. Could that be you? Learn about how to join us.
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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The latest from Jonathan on MyTheatreMates

SHOW BOAT – Sheffield Crucible

In Musicals, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

2015 you sly old fox, you’ve saved the best for last.
The Confederate flag flutters over the stage as the opening bars of Show Boat play out. An ugly image, the flag defining so much of America’s troubled history and setting a dark uncompromising tone that defines Daniel Evan’s production.

Bewitchment on Black Ice – Review

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Landor Theatre, London


Devised and choreographed by Nicky Scott
Directed by Robert McWhir

Skating more on thin ice than black, this year’s Christmas offering from the Landor is, to be honest, more bewilderment than Bewitchment. But if stars were to be awarded solely for ballsy bravura then Robert McWhir’s take on this fairy tale pot-pourri would be a 5-star Fantasia.
Staged on artificial ice, there is much to smile at in this sometimes saucy tilt at witches, princes and Disney princesses. If there’s a story running through Bewitchment, it was lost on me – but the entertainment kept on coming.
Leading the energetic Clapham cast is South London’s ice-skating queen and now a national coach, Paulette Smart, as Malevolent. An accomplished performer on the ice, Smart’s dance is a treat, even more so for an off West End “above a pub” production. Turns out skating is in the family, for Smart is more than matched by real-life daughter Tara whose Cinderella on skates is a stunner. Smart Junior’s movement is lithe and lissome and a second half dance two-hander comprising mother and daughter is sensational.
Bewitchment’s writing is a curious affair. Far too crude to be called a family show – although its ingenious, even if low-budget, special effects (I loved the fish) cry out for kids’ approval. And with gags as old as they are occasionally very offensive (referring to a black girl as a chocolate fondue? Really??) there is often more to wince at than guffaw. The pre-recorded soundtrack is clunky – and with un-mic’d actors competing with amplified backing, lyric loss is inevitable (though Ruth Petersen’s Belle, reworking Alan Menken into “little town, full of Village People” was a gem).
Some of Nicky Scott’s ensemble dance work is impressive – Ryan Ford Iosco’s Prince Charming and Chantelle A’ Court’s Snow White in particular. But ice dance ain’t easy – and all too often there’s a lack of synchronicity amidst the hard-working company that smacks of an overambitious creative team. And don’t ask why, but towards the end of the show, Jeff Raggett’s Rumpelstiltskin comes back from the dead with a take on the Bricusse/Newley classic Feeling Good that is as powerfully sung as it is just downright bizarre!
To its credit Bewitchment only lasts 1hr 45 (inc interval) and it’s not often that ice dance comes to a Clapham pub. The Smart girls are a fabulous pair – and seeing them, up close and in action, is worth the price of a ticket.

Runs until 9th January 2016

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CYMBELINE – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

In that little wooden candlelit nest of magic and wonder that is the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Sam Yates directs a dreamy, fairytale-like Cymbeline. Originally written to be performed across the river at the Blackfriars playhouse (and now playing in that venue’s simulacrum), the play is a tragicomedy with heavy dark elements (jealousy, betrayal, poisoning, the list goes on) none of which appears to do much harm to this reassuring and family-friendly Globe production.

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FUNNY GIRL – Menier Chocolate Factory

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Imelda Staunton may have just wowed in Styne and Sondheim’s Gypsy, but hard on her heels is Sheridan Smith’s take on Fanny Brice. In a role that famously demands an unconventional beauty – and which, from both Broadway and Hollywood launch pads Barbra Streisand was rocketed into the highest of stellar orbits – Smith has enormously famous shoes to fill.

ALADDIN – Churchill Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

The arrival of Christmas in Bromley is well and truly heralded by the opening of Aladdin at the Churchill Theatre.
Starring Scott Maslen as the villain Abanazar, Jess Robinson as Slave of the Ring and Bobby Crush as Widow Twankey, Aladdin is a glittering and fast-paced extravaganza, providing a memorable retelling of the classic story.

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In Cabaret, Concerts, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Christmas came early to the West End on Sunday night, for just like Max Bialystock, Mel Brooks’ legendary king of Broadway, Alex Parker has done it again with his own Kings Of Broadway. Though where Bialystock famously flopped, yet again this remarkable conductor cum impresario succeeded spectacularly in mounting a one-night only extravaganza of the work of Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman. Either Parker has amassed a multitude of favours to call in, or, and this is far more likely, he has simply earned the respect of an army of talented professionals including a 30-piece(!) orchestra and a cast of stellar proportions, to put on a concert that proved to be as polished as it was entertaining.

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