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RAGTIME – Charing Cross Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Carole WoddisLeave a Comment

You begin to run out of superlatives when it comes to Thom Southerland and Danielle Tarento’s touch with small scale musicals. Having seen three of their previous ones at Southwark Playhouse, it should comes as no surprise that even though they’ve now shifted over to the Charing Cross Theatre, the same spirit of élan and bravura staging in confined spaces continues unabated.

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NEWS: Earl Carpenter & Anita Louise Combe lead Ragtime, Full cast

In London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Press Releases, Sticky by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Earl Carpenter, who starred in the West End and on Broadway as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and Inspector Javert in Les Miserables, and West End star Anita Louise Combe, Tessie Tura in Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre and both Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly in Chicago, are to head the cast of a major new actor-musician production of RAGTIME.

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GYPSY – West End

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

It is rare to see perfection improved upon, but in its transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Kent’s Gypsy achieves just that. A highlight of 2014, the resonance of Jule Styne’s big band brassy score filled the Sussex theatre’s world class open stage. But Gypsy was written in and for the Golden Age of Broadway, to be mounted on a proscenium stage. In re-sculpting their masterpiece to fit the Savoy’s traditional confines, Kent and choreographer Stephen Mear have excelled.

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Review: Desperate Divas (St James’s Studio)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

If I’ve been to one compilation evening where a range of theatrical types repackage show tunes on the theme of ‘love, sex and relationships’, I’ve been to a hundred but the credentials of the two killer-diller headliners now trading as ‘The Desperate Divas’ made this one a must. I loved Anita-Louise Combe’s wit and musical […]

The post Review: Desperate Divas (St James’s Studio) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

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Desperate Divas Cabaret – Review

In by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

*****
Tiffany Graves, Tom Wakeley and Anita Louise Combe
Tiffany Graves and Anita Louise Combes are West End leading ladies who amongst other things, have both played Chicago’s Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly even if never in the production at the same time as the other. It was Tom Wakeley however, a former Musical Director of the Kander & Ebb hit, that spotted the potential of pairing the two as a double act. It has taken a couple of years to bring Wakeley’s idea to fruition, but their cabaret Desperate Divas, a collection of show tunes loosely themed around the trials of modern dating, is now finally receiving its premier at the St James Studio.
Graves and Combes are vocal sensations and this show is all the more remarkable for having been put together whilst both actresses are currently rehearsing major openings. Graves is shortly to commence touring as Ulla in The Producers, whilst Combes in preparation for the transfer of last year’s sensational Gypsy, from Chichester to the West End’s Savoy. It was a neat touch that saw the gig open with a mash up of When You Got it Flaunt It together with Let Me Entertain You from each show respectively. The tweaked lyrics may have been a little bit cheesy but the songs provided a classy moment that set the tone for the rest of the night.
The divas’ patter was mostly classy, even if occasionally clunky. But this was their first gig – and when schedules allow these talented women to re-group and perform again, (which they must) their spiel will only get better.
The songs however were flawless, combining familiar numbers (in a set list that was inevitably heavy on offerings from Chicago) together with showtunes some of which have yet to be performed in the UK. One of Combes’ desperate deliveries was Where In The World Is My Prince from William Finn’s Little Miss Sunshine, which included the sparklingly memorable rhyme that she’d been “trained by Nikinsky and coached by Lewinsky”. Other treats of the first half included Graves’ (now clad in a wedding dress – bravo to the backstage dressers for executing such speedy costume changes) Always A Bridesmaid from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, whilst the pair closed act one with Side Show’s plaintive Who Will Love Me As I Am, delivered with stunning harmonies and a thrilling anthemic power.
Graves had played a stunning Sukie Rougemont in the 2013 prodcution of The Witches of Eastwick at Newbury’s Watermill (reviewed here). So to see Words,Words,Words, a bogglingly complex number rarely heard on the cabaret circuit, listed amongst the second half gems, whetted appetites. Graves duly smashed the song, to showstopping whoops from the packed crowd.
Tom Wakeley excelled on piano throughout – ably accompanied by Paul Moylan on double bass.
The pair closed with Chicago’s Class and Nowadays – done to perfection by two singers who could not know their material more intimately nor with greater understanding. That they also threw in a very slick Hot Honey Rag dance routine, tailored brilliantly to the Studio’s confines, was but an added bonus. These women are at the top of their game with voices that are perfectly tuned. Cabaret singing doesn’t get better than this!

Photo credit – Jonathan Hilder of Piers Photography