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DEVILISH – Landor Theatre

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

The Landor Theatre has made an occasional departure from its repertoire of well-focused chamber-sized revivals to host an original creation called Devilish. Possibly with an exclamation mark. Like Oklahoma! Only not remotely like Oklahoma! Starting not even from a novel, an anecdote really, in which an angel descends from heaven and is shot down into the melee of modern Britain, Chris Burgess has fashioned the slenderest of stories and a battery of lyrics with easy-listening-to-soft-rock music by BB Cooper.

Bewitchment on Black Ice – Review

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

Landor Theatre, London

***

Devised and choreographed by Nicky Scott
Directed by Robert McWhir

Skating more on thin ice than black, this year’s Christmas offering from the Landor is, to be honest, more bewilderment than Bewitchment. But if stars were to be awarded solely for ballsy bravura then Robert McWhir’s take on this fairy tale pot-pourri would be a 5-star Fantasia.
Staged on artificial ice, there is much to smile at in this sometimes saucy tilt at witches, princes and Disney princesses. If there’s a story running through Bewitchment, it was lost on me – but the entertainment kept on coming.
Leading the energetic Clapham cast is South London’s ice-skating queen and now a national coach, Paulette Smart, as Malevolent. An accomplished performer on the ice, Smart’s dance is a treat, even more so for an off West End “above a pub” production. Turns out skating is in the family, for Smart is more than matched by real-life daughter Tara whose Cinderella on skates is a stunner. Smart Junior’s movement is lithe and lissome and a second half dance two-hander comprising mother and daughter is sensational.
Bewitchment’s writing is a curious affair. Far too crude to be called a family show – although its ingenious, even if low-budget, special effects (I loved the fish) cry out for kids’ approval. And with gags as old as they are occasionally very offensive (referring to a black girl as a chocolate fondue? Really??) there is often more to wince at than guffaw. The pre-recorded soundtrack is clunky – and with un-mic’d actors competing with amplified backing, lyric loss is inevitable (though Ruth Petersen’s Belle, reworking Alan Menken into “little town, full of Village People” was a gem).
Some of Nicky Scott’s ensemble dance work is impressive – Ryan Ford Iosco’s Prince Charming and Chantelle A’ Court’s Snow White in particular. But ice dance ain’t easy – and all too often there’s a lack of synchronicity amidst the hard-working company that smacks of an overambitious creative team. And don’t ask why, but towards the end of the show, Jeff Raggett’s Rumpelstiltskin comes back from the dead with a take on the Bricusse/Newley classic Feeling Good that is as powerfully sung as it is just downright bizarre!
To its credit Bewitchment only lasts 1hr 45 (inc interval) and it’s not often that ice dance comes to a Clapham pub. The Smart girls are a fabulous pair – and seeing them, up close and in action, is worth the price of a ticket.

Runs until 9th January 2016

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THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE – Landor Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

As someone raised on West End musicals, I’ve grown used to grand spectacles, produced on a huge scale and a big budget, with lavish sets and an army of stage crew. It never would have occurred to me that you could present a show of that kind in a fringe theatre, with a cast of twelve and a band of five. Yet Thoroughly Modern Millie, at the tiny and intimate Landor Theatre, does just that – and is easily as entertaining as any of those big productions.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE – Landor Theatre

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

Derived in 2002 from the 1967 Julie Andrews movie, Thoroughly Modern Millie is thoroughly old fashioned. It’s sexist: all the women are actresses or typists; racist: landlady Mrs Meers feigns orientalism and speaks pantomime Cantonese to her migrant Hong Kong laundrymen; heteronormative: every flapper’s ambition is to secure a rich businessman husband and even white slavery is dismissed as “well, it’s one way to get a man”, but so heartwarming and jolly you can almost forgive its cartoon morality.

What goes into creating a new musical? Interview with the creators of Tess The Musical

In Features, Interviews, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

My ears pricked up at the thought of supporting some new writing and a new project. So when Tess The Musical made contact I was there like a shot asking how I could encourage and support? They’d seen what I’ve done for others so here’s one of my Interviews with the Two Michael’s who have created a new musical based on the iconic book by Thomas Hardy. What follows is their unedited answers to my questions.

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In The Dead Of Night – Review

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

Landor Theatre, London

***

Written and directed by Claudio Macor

Judith Paris and Susannah Allman
In The Dead Of Night sets out an ambitious premise. Very much a nod to the film noir of the 1940s, Claudio Macor’s play draws upon the classic romantic motifs with a tale set in the fictional South American town of La Roca.  Amidst an intrigue of whores, drug cartels, sleazy dockside rendezvous and ultimately murder, passions run high and hearts are broken.
But back in the day Hollywood was enslaved to the Hays Code – a puritanical ethic that governed all aspects of intimacy and sexuality in the movie industry. Macor has already explored this era with The Tailor Made Man. In The Dead Of Night takes artistic licence one step further, by pitching the plot as though the Hays Code did not exist. Gay love is celebrated rather than hidden, whilst the straight sex simmers too. The noir genre cruelly demands respect and scripting the period can prove to be a notorious challenge if melodrama is to be avoided. Whilst Macor’s research into the cocaine-fuelled period is learned and sincere, he overdoses on cliché.
Acclaimed actor Judith Paris leads the company as La Roca’s ageing madam, Elvira. Paris is a delight, making a larger than life character accessible, whilst at the same time casting a GILF-like spell over most of the men in town.  Shamelessly exploitative, Macor has chosen his performers with an eye for beauty as much as for talent. Countless ripped young men strut about in vests and butt-slung braces, who if they are not lusting after Elvira, are falling at the feet of Susannah Allman’s Rita, or in the story’s strongest love theme, each other. Defying the conventions of the time, the story leads on the doomed love between Leandro and Massimo, respectively Matt Mella and Jordan Alexander, in a courtship that includes some fabulously choreographed man to man tango.
And it’s Anthony Whiteman’s choreography that marks this show out. Delivering quite possibly the best off-West End dance work in London today, his sublime tangos and salsas are breath-taking for what they accomplish, especially given the Landor’s modest space. Immaculately drilled, his company oozes passion whilst the perfectly sculpted and scantily clad Allman, gives a performance that is not only a smouldering tribute to Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner, but also a sensational dance accomplishment as she moves around her would be suitors.
Notable too on the night are Ned Wolfgang Kelly’s devious Falchi, whilst Ross Harper Millar’s Martinez is memorably classy as a drink and drugs addled Latin bum.
Overblown hokum for sure, but with Paul Boyd (he of Molly Wobbly fame)  having laid down a keyboard driven backing score that adds to both time and genre and all supporting a deliciously talented troupe, In The Dead Of Night makes for an entertaining night out. Worth catching!

Runs to 16th May 2015  

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Review: Damn Yankees (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

I haven’t seen Damn Yankees for twenty years. But when I was lucky enough to catch the 1993 Old Globe Theatre San Diego production which transferred to New York, it made a lasting impression – not just for the pretty remarkable performances of Victor Garber as the devilish Mr Applegate and Bebe (Lilith from ‘Frasier’) […]

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Review: Damn Yankees (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

I haven’t seen Damn Yankees for twenty years. But when I was lucky enough to catch the 1993 Old Globe Theatre San Diego production which transferred to New York, it made a lasting impression – not just for the pretty remarkable performances of Victor Garber as the devilish Mr Applegate and Bebe (Lilith from ‘Frasier’) […]

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Review: That Face (Landor Theatre)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Imagine that Hamlet’s bedroom scene lasted a tense hour and a half, or that someone held up a distorting mirror to Coward’s The Vortex and instead of a wayward etiolated son it was the mother who was dissolute and drug dependent. When Polly Stenham’s That Face premiered at the Royal Court in 2007 it was […]

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Review: A Class Act (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

“Did you actually see this on Broadway?” I asked the woman next to me who’d boasted of the fact. “Why did it flop?” “Oh,” she said, “it opened the same time as The Producers and nothing could survive in that shadow”. Not sure you can lay the three-month run of A Class Act at the […]

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Review: The Route to Happiness (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

According to its composer, The Route to Happiness is deliberately designed as a chamber musical for low-budget production in fringe venues. This is briskly refreshing compared to those shiny-faced student directors who are convinced their “cutting edge” new musical over a ratty pub in Zone 4 is immediately ready for a £70-a-seat transfer to Shaftesbury […]

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Review: Hot Mikado (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

With all the liberties that have been taken with Gilbert and Sullivan – from the Jonathan Miller 1920s art deco staging at English National Opera now nearing its 26th year of revival, to Sasha Regan’s free-form all male Pirates of Penzance from the Union Theatre currently touring Australia – you might wonder why anyone would specifically […]

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Review: Hot Mikado (Landor Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

With all the liberties that have been taken with Gilbert and Sullivan – from the Jonathan Miller 1920s art deco staging at English National Opera now nearing its 26th year of revival, to Sasha Regan’s free-form all male Pirates of Penzance from the Union Theatre currently touring Australia – you might wonder why anyone would specifically […]

The post Review: Hot Mikado (Landor Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.