Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Jonathan O’Boyle’s production of Aspects of Love which has transferred to London from Manchester.
Aspects of Love may perhaps benefit from a modern reworking to iron out the more distasteful elements, but it should be fondly remembered.
A packed house at the New Wimbledon Theatre rose as one to salute Ria Jones’ bow at the close of Sunset Boulevard and with good reason. Jones remains magnificent, her definitive, decaying diva capturing Norma Desmond’s long-faded Hollywood majesty.
This Curve staging of Sunset Boulevard successfully manages to keep the glamour and scale required of a show documenting the golden age of Hollywood whilst making it suitable for a touring company.
Ria Jones dazzles in the poignant, wonderfully melodramatic and tragic Sunset Boulevard that is both a love letter to movies and a eulogy to Hollywood’s silent era.
There is a magic that pervades Nikolai Foster’s production of Sunset Boulevard, and it flows from leading lady Ria Jones. Twenty-six years after creating the role of Norma Desmond for Andrew Lloyd Webber at the composer’s Sydmonton Festival, Jones now leads the show and never has a casting been more perfect.
Jodie Prenger is exquisite in this stylish production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s musical.
Sunday 15 May 2016 saw the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Awards 2016 take place at London’s Novello Theatre, with Guildford School of Acting’s Courtney Bowman (pictured centre) crowned the winner. Catherine Francoise was at the event for www.jonathanbaz.com and reports.
There are just six weeks left to see the critically acclaimed, Olivier Award nominated musical MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre. The final performance of this strictly limited 18-week season will be on Saturday 18 June 2016.
What Close is, is a Hollywood Legend of the grandest order, ranking in her generation alongside Meryl Streep, but not really many others. And that defines part of the magic of this production at the Coliseum. A Hollywood diva is in London, playing …a Hollywood diva. This will not happen often in our lifetimes.
At the curtain call, co-star Michael Xavier bowed down before Ria on stage and producer Michael Grade was first to grab her in the wings as the sound of the cast applauding her enveloped her. A class act, indeed and one I am so privileged to say I witnessed up close and personal from the front row. It was a night I will never forget.
The evening has to be given to Close, who exceeded every expectation and was every ounce the Hollywood star she is. Charisma, dramatisation, characterisation, timing and delivery, all outstandingly perfect.
As the 2016 Olivier Awards ceremony draws closer, new musical Mrs Henderson Presents is nominated in four categories. Ian Bartholomew is up for Best Actor In A Musical and I spoke with him about the show.
Wrapping up a UK tour, this week sees Anne Reid take up a residency at the Crazy Coqs. Not just as one of the nation’s most beloved actresses, Reid’s cabaret reputation precedes her and her set that lasts the best part of two hours is a delight.
I was raised Protestant and have never been to a Bar Mitzvah – “You have now!”, a Jewish gent at the interval told me. The rituals of both the service and the family dynamics (and all-round kvetching) leading up to it are highly accurate, so he assured. And I believe him.
Upstairs At The Gatehouse, London
Music by Jule StyneLyrics by Don BlackBook by Jack RosenthalBook revised by David Thompson
Lara Stubbs, Sue Kelvin and Robert Maskell
Jule Styne and Don Black’s Barmitzvah Boy, now playing in Highgate, takes a look at Jewish life in suburban London with a perspective that is both delightfully dated and yet timeless. It was in 1976 that Jack Rosenthal’s inspired BBC TV play of the same title was broadcast. Rosenthal’s skill lay in affectionately spotting the satire that exists in the world around us and then gently, subtly, teasing his observations into a carefully crafted script. Barmitzvah Boy was so much more than a (rather far-fetched) tale of a young boy balking at the rite of passage that lies ahead of him. It offered a perfectly weighted glimpse into the quasi-assimilated angst of North West London’s Jewish community, with a cast of characters that were as recognisable as they were hilarious.
It was to be Don Black who spotted the story’s musical potential and whilst musical theatre may not have been Rosenthal’s genre of choice, his magnificent characters lend themselves well to the transition.
We find he Green family preparing to celebrate the Barmitzvah of their youngest, Eliot. Cab-driver Victor (Eliot’s father) resigns himself to the cost of the event (with three insurance policies cashed in and counting) whilst his wife Rita frets about her hair, the guest list and all manner of trivia which, as a major celebration looms, of course take on an immense significance.
Making his professional debut in the title role, Adam Bregman (just 13 and only recently Bar Mitzvah’d himself) puts in a cutely confident turn, displaying just the right amount of cheeky chutzpah. Robert Maskell’s Victor is a comic delight – He doesn’t over-egg his hard working sufferance in life, rather offering a portrayal of a Tevye 100 years on, only driving a cab and reading the Daily Express rather than hauling a milk cart and praying in synagogue. The enduring pathos of Victor’s well-worn love for Rita (think again of Tevye and Golde, only moved to a suburban semi rather than the shtetl), as well as a delightful duet with his aged father in law (Hayward B Morse) in Why Can’t He Be Like Me mark a nicely measured performance.
Sue Kelvin as Rita is every inch the Jewish mother. Rosenthal was merciless in skewering her character’s much stereotyped neuroses – but where so often comedy has usually placed such a matriarch in New York’s Brooklyn, to find her so recognisably sketched out in Willesden remains one of Barmitzvah Boy’s endearing treats.
The cast in general deliver a quality package. Lara Stubbs puts in a beautifully voiced turn as Eliot’s older sister Lesley and there’s particularly fine supporting work from Nicholas Corre as Harold, her schlemiel of a boyfriend. What makes Corre’s work in particular so remarkable is his delivery of a guy who is a complete klutz, yet doing so with a combination of well-crafted acting, fine movement and a stunning vocal presence. There is also a charming cameo from NYMT alumna Hannah Rose-Thompson as Eliot’s school friend Denise.
Notwithstanding the familiarity of its family/Jewish shtick, Barmitzvah Boy is very much a period piece. David Thompson has updated the book and whilst Rosenthal’s reference to TV cop Kojak squarely (and delightfully) pitches the action into the 1970’s, the outmoded references to “Chinks” (now unpleasantly racist and not penned by Rosenthal either) could have been cut out completely.
Bravo to producer Katy Lipson for having blown the dust off this time-machine of a show and credit to Stewart Nicholls for cleverly helming a potentially tricky piece. Ultimately Rosenthal and Black (along with Styne’s score, some of which is sensational and which is delightfully delivered on the night by Ed Court’s four piece band) have created a show that describes, over 2 hours, a culture that Jason Robert Brown distilled into 3 minutes in the song Shiksa Goddess from his show The Last Five Years.
Dripping with so much schmaltz that it could quite possibly congeal arteries, Barmitzvah Boy is most likely to appeal to musical theatre fans and Jews. This is one of those shows that makes London’s fringe great – and, after the recent triumphs of Gypsy and Funny Girl, for those who want to discover one of Jule Styne’s lesser known works, it’s unmissable.
Runs until 10th April, then at the Radlett Centre
Fresh out of the ‘Bath’ as it were and straight into London’s West End comes the eagerly anticipated transfer of last year’s adaptation of the film Mrs Henderson Presents. Perhaps most commonly known to most as the ‘striptease revue film’ starring Judi Dench, Will Young and the late great Bob Hoskins. Mrs Laura Henderson and her girls bring us straight to the heart of an austerity Britain, with the women and the workers of World War II, providing a much more gut-wrenching hit than one might have imagined.
Norma Heyman, John Reid, Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Michael Harrison are delighted to announce that following a sell-out season at the Theatre Royal Bath this summer, MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS will open at the Noel Coward Theatre on Tuesday 9 February 2016, for a strictly limited season, with a press night on Tuesday 16 February 2016. MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS will …
Glenn Close will star as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, the second production in the partnership between English National Opera (ENO) and the GradeLinnit Company. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Sunset Boulevard is produced by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd and is based on the original Paramount film by Billy Wilder.
GETTING ‘EM OFF FOR VICTORY Never in the field of TR Bath’s excellent endeavours has so much flesh been displayed with such nerve to so many. Some were, in the interval queue for the Ladies, a bit gobsmacked. “Didn’t expect … Continue reading →
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