Producers Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills have announced that Heathers the Musical will make its return to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket from 21 June 2021 for a strictly limited until 11 September, while simultaneously launching its new touring production from 28 July, opening at Leeds Grand Theatre for three weeks, before heading off across the UK.
Fanny & Stella is a funny, bawdy, light-hearted musical that provides a very welcome distraction from the seriousness of the world.
Intimacy: letting oneself be vulnerable to ‘baggage’, words and actions of another. Perhaps not a textbook romantic/sexual definition of the word, but in Hedgehogs & Porcupines, ‘hearts and flowers’ associations are stripped away, as it lays bare the reality of maintaining a relationship.
Following a sold-out run at The Other Palace earlier this year, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding Heathers the Musical, with a strong fandom out in force and social media buzzing with (mostly) glowing comments.
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.
This new musical with music by BB Cooper and book and lyrics by Chris Burgess has plenty of potential but needs stronger characterisations to make it even better.
Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Written by Peter Quilter
Directed by Daniel Buckroyd
It’s a well-known story, but a heartbreaker each time it is told. It’s the one about the dark side of talent and celebrity and the permanent and omniscient destruction that it causes. Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and even Britney Spears all come to mind immediately, but there were many more that came before and with a tragic inevitability, more are likely to follow.
End of the Rainbow tells Judy Garland’s story and the tale of the child star turned superstar plays out around an astonishing performance from Lisa Maxwell.
Set in London, as Judy prepares for a six week concert run in the capital, the play provides a snapshot into the complex and irrevocably damaged individual that she had become. Maxwell flits between Garland’s incredible self-awareness and power alongside the hysteria as her dependence on drink and drugs became too much.
Garland battles with both her manager / new fiancé Mickey Deans (Sam Attwater) and her accompanist Anthony Chapman (Gary Wilmot). Chapman, who has known and loved her far longer than Mickey is to bear witness to her decline.
Although billed as a play, a selection of Garland’s greatest numbers are interjected into the telling of the story and Maxwell delivers these with a spine-tingling excellence. Wilmot is also on top form as Anthony, providing a critique of Mickey and his motives and to a degree, acting as the voice of reason. Attwater lacks a certain level of bite and struggles to maintain a consistent accent, but broadly plays well alongside the other two characters.
David Shields’ set design is a neat conceit, moving the audience from the hotel suite in which the three are staying, to the concert venue and back again. The staging is well complemented by David W Kidd’s lighting arrangements and some magnificent costuming.
End Of The Rainbow leaves the audience feeling heart-broken, yet also roused by the simply sensational Lisa Maxwell. Ending the show with a song does well to ensure that Judy Garland is remembered for her talent and fire and for achieving the immortality through fame that she craved.
Runs until 12th March then toursReviewed by: Bhakti Gajjar
Landor Theatre, London
Written by Michael Webborn and Daniel FinnDirected by Robert McWhir
As Carrie The Musical closes in Southwark, so another show about a misunderstood young woman, who’s blessed with supernatural powers, opens south of the river. But where Carrie was the re-imagining of a classic modern horror story, The Clockmaker’s Daughter in Clapham’s Landor Theatre is a boldly written new fairy tale.
There are hints of Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz and Howard Goodall in the music as we learn how many years ago clockmaker Abraham made himself a clockwork young daughter named Constance (geddit?) to replace his young dead wife. Notwithstanding the potentially “mechanically incestuous” complications that the scenario suggests (and which need to be ironed out in the inevitable future re-writes), the very best of fairy tales, on close examination, are all horror stories and there are distinct nods to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a starting point for this fable. We see Constance, like Dr Frankenstein’s creature before her, learning to reason and to feel emotions and going on ultimately to be shunned by the world around her.
The plot is simple – and as Constance goes around the village performing acts of kindness, she represents a wholesome focus for the story to pivot upon. Her craving a human mortality only adds to the story’s poignancy and with the inclusion of an appropriately boo-worthy villain, the show offers some gorgeous potential.
That this story works at all is largely due to the outstanding performance of Jennifer Harding in the title role. Robert McWhir has coaxed from her a subtly portrayed reality that convinces us of her soulless plight. Her robotic movements are just right, not too pronounced and Harding’s gold-painted face defines her as being not of this world. Her singing is gorgeous too, making fine work of her big solos A Story Of My Own and the climactic Clockwork.
Jo Wickham hams it up magnificently (though she could shout a bit less) as the wicked Ma’ Riley, out for Constance’s downfall, Alyssa Martyn convinces as a charming young bride Amelia, whilst elsewhere the large company numbers again demonstrate Robbie O’Reilly’s ability to achieve impressive ensemble work in the Landor’s compact space, with both Keep It To Yourself and Market Day being cleverly staged numbers that were easy on both eye and ear.
David Shields’ stage design works wonders with a set that’s a combination of trucks, projections and ingenious contraptions and credit too to Richard Lambert’s lighting work that for the most part enhances both ambience and location.
This ain’t the finished product yet, but it’s a damn good work in progress. The show needs to lose at least 30 minutes and its script would benefit from some expert treatment too. But make no mistake, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a charming show that celebrates the ingenuity of today’s new writing – it’s fun to watch and a bit of a tear-jerker too. This wonderful story deserves a future life, possibly as a Xmas show somewhere or who knows, possibly on screen? There’s enough potential in the story to hook even the most Disney-fied of today’s audiences and I wish it well.
Runs until 4th July 2015