Doctor Dolittle follows the “impossible” man who understands animals better than people so with the help of his parrot Polynesia, learns their languages to help cure all their ailments.
Lots of different things opening across the country in March. In London there are a lot of Fringe and Off West End productions coming your way.
Much of my ‘touring’ has been concentrated in Bristol and Chichester; there are a few other UK venues to add to the list, as well as some from my week in New York, of course.
This production’s look is over-the-top and blatantly kitsch – the sorority house screams Polly Pocket whilst the looming bookcases of Harvard have a distinct faux-Harry Potter feel.
Lucie Jones is exquisite as Elle, seamlessly blending nods to Reese Witherspoon’s film portrayal with her own flavour. This Elle comes with a level of self-awareness and sass that makes her truly memorable.
‘Son of a Preacher Man’- we all know the Dusty Springfield classic, but in an age of social media communication and online dating it’s easy to forget the sentiment and soul of the swinging sixties.
Green Day’s concept punk album explored something that teenagers around the world have been doing forever – questioning societal constructs and their own purpose in life, and feeling as though they are the only person in to experience this existential crisis. But, with a large focus on the post-2001 world, the 2004 release of American Idiot went even further, by ramping up the rage and frustration and channeling this into a highly charged and chaotic collection of thoughts and guitars.
It’s a neat conceit – turning a long defunct magazine brand, synonymous with the childhood of girls of the 70s into a night to remember for those very same girls, now of course women.
The Churchill’s curtain rises, revealing a crashed plane in a jungle-esque setting. To a deeply reverberating score plied with ominous overtones, the stage is set for this darkest of tales.
Lord of the Flies, studied at schools across the country, is one of the great British novels.
A technicolour spectacle is promised by the cast and crew of Joseph and it is duly delivered – to rapturous applause. Telling the classic Old Testament story of the favourite of Jacob’s 12 sons cruelly cast out in a fraternal coup, at the heart of the dark tale is a celebration of hope and dreams.
Let It Be, kicking off its tour in Bromley this week, serves as a remarkable reminder of The Beatles’ story. Tracing the band’s beginnings in The Cavern club in Liverpool, it follows the soon to be named Fab Four on their fast track to greatness, hurtling to London and America and on to packed stadium tours, taking the audience with them on this journey.
Pleasing on the eye and ear, this 1930s Noël Coward script is brought to life for 2016 by director Tom Attenborough and a cast of five. Telling the story of two newly married divorcees who find themselves honeymooning in conjoining suites, the play follows Elyot and Amanda as they differentiate between love and marriage and perception and reality – both with each other and their new partners.
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.
Puttin’ On The Ritz – which promises to take the audience back to the ‘golden age of Hollywood’ – has the potential to be a hit show. Billed as a ‘song and dance extravaganza’, it plays to the country’s fascination with ballroom dancing (as demonstrated by Strictly Come Dancing) and with the musical genius of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, whose hits caused many audience members to sing along.
Famed as the musical for people who don’t like musicals, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to revisit this quirky and surprising show. Not since 2007 have I been exposed to the Bad Idea Bears (possibly my favourite artistic invention) and the disgusting yet loveable porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster.
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
A story about identity, packaged as a comedy but addressing some very real and hard-hitting issues, East is East is a slick production. Simon Nagra’s George Khan is a Pakistani immigrant, a staunch Muslim married to a Salford woman and the father of seven children. The play captures the life of his family as he does everything he can to cling on to his heritage and culture and we witness just how difficult this is.
Opening with Perpetuum Mobile, a short work choreographed by Christopher Hampson. Set to Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, the performance mirrored the increasingly complex layers of music found within the composition. The dancers’ movements proved continual, fluid and dynamic with Lucia Solari, Ayami Miyata and Javier Torres in particular offering captivating performances. Created over 15 years ago, Hampson says he was “initially inspired by the score.” This was evident and it is the close marriage between movement and music that made Perpetuum Mobile a joyous contemporary piece to watch.
We’re like that, in Lancashire. We build you up and then we knock you down … just so’s you don’t forget where you come from and get a bit above yerself down in that there Lundun. The script of Corrie! Is by much-garlanded author Jonathan Harvey, not only a long-time stalwart of the show’s writing […]
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