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Review: Hitler! The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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This is the show which might as easily have been titled Fringetime for Hitler: if only Max Biyalistock had thought to do it with an all-female cast. Apart from one guy who actually plays Hitler’s mum, it’s an all-girl band who deliver this ‘gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden’ and suggest his conquest […]

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Review: Hey, Piano Bar Lady! (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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Linn Lorkin’s musical autobiography travels from her New Zealand farmstead via a stint at Ronnie Scott’s in London to the piano bars and walkup flatshares in New York’s SoHo. It’s spiced with gentle anecdotes and features several of her own jazz compositions. The anecdotes need tightening and whilst the lyrics are amusing, many of the […]

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Review: Blood Brothers (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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Because the musical’s been a fixture in the West End for over 25 years, initially starring Barbara Dickson but subsequently sheltering any number of pop retirees including Spice Girl Mel C, most of the Nolan Sisters and X-Factor’s Niki Evans, it’s interesting to remember that Blood Brothers started life as a school play written by […]

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Review: Fresher The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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It’s refreshing to see how Fresher’s Week hasn’t changed over the years. The insecurities over how to fit in, find your feet, seem cool and get laid could as easily have been set in the History Man era as today. Five students arrive in their allocated shared flat and through a series of drinking games […]

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Review: The Hot Mikado (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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Few things are more indestructible than Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. It’s been set in so many different times and places that Jonathan Miller’s flapperish twenties’ mash-up for ENO is seen as as much of a ‘classic’ as the original. The 1986 score of The Hot Mikado in which G&S got souped up by Rob […]

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Review: Sweet Charity (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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The idea that the Neil Simon-scripted 60’s musical and Shirley MacLaine vehicle in which taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine’s cheerful optimism survives all misfortunes should be transposed to a gay bar and bath-house on the Lower East Side is intriguing. Realistically, that’s the only good thing about this show. The opening “Big Spender” is set […]

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Review: Into The Woods (Edinburgh Fringe 2011)

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If ever a musical were designed to set traps for amateurs, it’s ‘Into The Woods’. The deceptively accessible ‘pantomime’ themes of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood disguise Sondheim’s disjunctive and difficult score full of pitfalls for the musically unwary. Opera di Nepotist stands out for its bravery: formed in 2009 to produce Sweeney Todd, […]

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Review: Slay It With Music (The Space, London)

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Would Bette Davis be seen dead on the Isle of Dogs? Could the East India Dock Road ever be confused with Sunset Boulevard? Only in the curious conjunction of Michael Colby’s comedy thriller musical with the slightly creepy, faintly gothic converted chapel which is ‘The Space’ theatre in London’s Docklands. The two combine in an […]

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Review: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (The Jermyn Street Theatre, London)

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Lorenz Hart’s death aged 48 deprived Richard Rodgers of what many musical theatre aficionados think was his finest collaborating lyricist. In their twenty year partnership, they created 26 musicals based on a solid belief in the integration of libretto, lyrics and music . This makes it harder to excise songs from their contexts but ‘Bewitched, […]

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Review: Ghost The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre)

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First thing to say about Ghost is it’s a great night out. From its filmic start, it looks and feels crafted for a new breed of theatregoer – cleverly pitched to attract the X-Factor crowd.  The set by Jon Driscoll is three full walls of LED and the New York screetscapes zip by with energy and […]

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Review: Cowardy Custard (Richmond Theatre)

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Kit and the Widow are a sophisticated and enduring cabaret act of much skill and polish, at least when not reading the words from a music stand.  Dillie Keane, founder and stalwart ofFascinating Aida has become the sort of national comedy institution round whom people should be taken in boats to marvel at her brilliance, […]

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Review: Fings Ain’t What They Used T’Be (Union Theatre, London)

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I confess it, I have previous with this show: in the mid-eighties I was in a fringe production which was selling so badly that one wet Wednesday we’d just decided to give the seven people in the audience their money back when we got a phone call to say that Lionel Bart was on his […]

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Review: Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (Gielgud Theatre)

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Sacre Bleu, Zut Alors, Quelle Horreur, and as for the choreography: Fosse septique … pick your own Francophone diatribes, this is vachement awful. It’s a shame, because the hand on the Kneehigh Theatre tiller is Emma Rice who helmed their extraordinarily inventive Brief Encounter, but to continue the boating metaphors it’s no coincidence that Cherbourg […]

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Review: The Last Five Years (The Tabard)

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It’s been a bit of a week for song cycles – Company at Southwark Playhouse has great tunes but doesn’t really lift the ‘book’ off the page, and The Last Five Years doesn’t even have one. American composer Jason Robert Brown penned fourteen songs for a pair of actors: she sings the cycle going backwards […]

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Review: Company (Southwark Playhouse)

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Poor Steve Sondheim.  During his 80thbirthday year in 2010 his works were exhaustively produced and his dramatic entrails more pored over than in any autopsy.  There’ll be less of a retrospective when he’s dead. In London, the revivals ranged from a lumpen ‘Follies’ atop a Walthamstow boozer to a puppyishly adoring all-starAlbert Hall Prom which […]

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Review: Peter Pan (New Wimbledon Theatre)

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If you’re the kind of sentimental old purist who remembers Mary Martin in the title role, and the words “second star to the right and straight on till morning” still bring a lump to your throat – this is not the Pan for you. This is a modern, popular-culture-on-steroids, musically throbbing show and light years’ […]

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Review: On The Twentieth Century (Union Theatre)

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Desperately trying to resuscitate his career and escape Chicago creditors, theatrical impresario Oscar Jaffee hops the Twentieth Century streamliner train for New York. In the next door sleeper resides his former muse turned Hollywood superstar Lily Garland. In the 1978 Broadway and 1980 London productions there was orchestral sweep and solid grandeur in the fittings […]

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Review: Bells are Ringing (Union Theatre, London)

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When you examine the 1956 credentials of Bells Are Ringing: book by Comden and Green, score by Jule Styne near the top of his game three years before his impeccable ‘Gypsy’, originally directed by Jerome Robbins and choreographed by Fosse, and whose kooky comedienne star Judy Holliday beat Ethel Merman and Julie Andrews to the […]

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Review: The Improvised Musical (Edinburgh Fringe 2010)

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A million years B.C., when I was a first-year drama student, we were encouraged to tit about with improvisation and gradually take, from the frankly ludicrous scenarios and inane characterisations we invented every wet Friday afternoon of the Autumn term, some semblance of a skill set which could be useful in actual acting performance, if […]

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Review: Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Camden Fringe)

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It would be like pissing on a grave to be overly critical of ‘Elegies’, the song cycle of AIDS victims interspersed with thirty-two heartfelt blank verse monologues charting individual experience of the fatal disease. But a little bit of wee did come out when we reflected on the wasted opportunity of staging this electrically important […]

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