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Mark Shenton looks to the future with his pick of the next generation of rising stars

In Audio, Broadway, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Online shows, Opinion, Plays, Quotes by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

In four previous episodes of my weekly #ShenTens podcast, and their accompanying columns here, I’ve chosen my top ten favourite leading ladies and leading men respectively in both Broadway and West End musicals. Now I turn to rising stars — the next generation of performers who are already making their mark in London. (I’ll get to Broadway when it returns to business itself).

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‘A score that is nagging away at earworm territory’: LOCK & KEY – Vault Festival

In Festivals, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

A nippy little thing this, Lock and Key. A new musical from writing duo Barlow & Smith, a couple of cracking musical theatre actresses in Tiffany Graves and Evelyn Hoskins, and the sweaty intimacy of the Pit, one of the Vault Festival’s less hospitable spaces. It all adds up to something really rather entertaining.

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NEWS: Cast announced for the European premiere of Peter & the Starcatcher

In Musicals, Native, Press Releases, Regional theatre by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Casting – including Evelyn Hoskins and newcomer Michael Shea as Peter – has been announced for the much-anticipated European premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher, being staged by Northampton’s Royal & Derngate this Christmas, running from 29 November to 31 December 2016, with a press night on 2 December.

PETER PAN: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE – West End

In Concerts, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

There have been many interpretations of J M Barrie’s Peter Pan story but this musical version by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe, with book by Willis Hall, deserves a place of note. The tale of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up and the three young Darling children of Bloomsbury he takes on an adventure to Neverland, has a charm which beguiles children and adults alike.

Diary of a theatre addict: Scott Alan, Alison Jiear, Carrie and more

In Cabaret, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

I feel like I’ve been at the St James Theatre and Studio all week — I went to three consecutive nights of Scott Alan performing his own work from last Sunday to Tuesday (joined by a host of guests in his first night in the main house, then just Cynthia Erivo and one more guest a night on each of the other more intimate gigs in the downstairs Studio), then also saw Paul Baker on Friday and tonight I’m seeing Jamie Parker. All that, and Alison Jiear on Britain’s Got Talent, last night too — what a week it has been for cabaret.

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CARRIE – Southwark Playhouse

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Apart from almost soiling myself when Sissy Spacek’s hand reached out from the grave in the 1976 Brian de Palma movie, and knowing there’s a book about famous musical flops called ‘Not Since Carrie …’ I’d been pretty much unexposed to the show by writers of Footloose and Fame Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. We’re […]

The post Review: Carrie (Southwark Playhouse) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

CARRIE – Southwark Playhouse

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

Southwark Playhouse, London 

****

A musical based on the novel by Stephen King
Music by Michael Gore
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Book by Lawrence D. Cohen

Kim Criswell and Evelyn Hoskins
Carrie makes its London debut at the Southwark Playhouse. Stephen King’s classic horror mixes the recognisably human tale of Carrie White, a schoolgirl teased and shunned by her peers but who discovers, with her late onset of puberty, that she is gifted/cursed with tele-kinetic powers that allow her to make things happen just by willing them. We all know that in life there are few environments more cruel and terrifying than the bully and his gang at school and King’s genius was in gifting a young girl with the ability to wreak a murderous revenge upon her wicked tormentors.
The story’s horror is gothically graphic and as in any scary tale, our disbelief can only be truly suspended if the trinity of a fine script, excellent stagecraft and perfect acting is achieved. But where Brian de Palma’s Oscar nominated 1976 movie succeeded in scaring us witless, the musical treatment falls far short. No one would dare add song and dance to Hitchcock’s Psycho or Kubrick’s The Shining, so quite what prompted the creative trio (and remember that Lawrence D Cohen wrote the movie’s screenplay too) to spawn this show is a mystery in itself. Whilst the songs are immaculately delivered, King’s horror has been mercilessly diluted, Pitchford’s lyrics are trite and Gore’s tunes quite frankly forgettable.
But…This is a Gary Lloyd show – and with Thriller Live, Lloyd has defined himself as without equal in staging visually stunning (and occasionally spooky) numbers to a rock tempo. It is only a pity that the score does not include more ensemble numbers, for when the Southwark Playhouse floor is packed with his performers the show’s pulse soars, fed by Mark Crossland’s powerful 7 piece band.
In the title role, Evelyn Hoskins is simply sensational. Her elfin physique melded with a perfect poise and a haunted demeanour convince us of a girl truly horrified by reaching her menarche at 17. Hoskins convinces us, not only of her pain but also of her supernatural endowments and her voice, especially in the numbers Carrie and Why Not Me is just heavenly (or should that be hellish?).
There is excellence elsewhere too – and were it not for Imelda Staunton’s Momma Rose currently wowing them across the river, then Kim Criswell would steal the award for Most Domineering Mother in a show. Her flame-haired bible bashing creation is a masterpiece of on-stage menace, her acting presence honed to perfection. And oh, what magnificent vocals. Criswell’s take on And Eve Was Weak will truly make an audience pray for their salvation, whilst her hymn-like When There’s No-One treated the audience to a voice of cathedral-like magnificence, a quality rarely heard on the Newington Causeway.
Jodie Jacobs puts in a lovely and sympathetic turn as Miss Gardner, the teacher who cares for Carrie, whilst elsewhere quality performers make the best they can of thinly sketched 2-D characters. As the baddy of the piece Gabriella William’s blonde and bitchy Chris is all hot pants and hatred, whilst Dex Lee (a newcomer who only recently stunned in The Scottsboro Boys) also sparkles as her schoolboy henchman Billy. Likewise, Sarah McNicholas makes a very decent fist of Sue, the musical’s narrator and a role savagely slashed from its movie origins.
Tim McQuillen-Wright’s design, all ripped up concrete and Jeremy Chernick’s special effects are fun with gimmicks galore, but the company deserve better flying from Foy than was evident on press night. The stage blood flows and if you’re sat front row prepare for a light spattering.
The show famously, expensively (and arguably, deservedly) flopped on Broadway nearly 30 years ago and whilst this version is slightly refined, it’s still a bleeding piece of meat – albeit one that Paul Taylor-Mills has produced superbly. 
Carrie won’t come around very often – and for that reason if you love musicals it’s a must see along with being quite possibly the best date-night in town. Unquestionably a period piece, it is perfectly performed and bloody good fun.

Runs until 30th May