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AMERICAN IDIOT – Arts Theatre

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

Green Day’s American Idiot is a celebrated punk rock concept Album written post 911. Wild speculation about who it is making reference to was rife at the time of release. Though fiercely denied by all (even in the shows programme), as we take to our seats videos are being projected of President George Bush’ various speeches.

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FUNNY GIRL – West End

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

“People”, who didn’t manage to nab their seats fast enough for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Funny Girl can most definitely rest easy in the knowledge that this acclaimed and triumphant revival is an even bigger and better show following its transfer across the river to the Savoy. Sheridan Smith’s Fanny Brice simply oozes star quality.

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AMERICAN IDIOT – Touring

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

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.

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NEWS: Funny Girl extends West End season until Sep 2016

In London theatre, Native, News, Press Releases, Ticket recommendations by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Following a critically acclaimed opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory this week, the smash hit production of Funny Girl extends its booking period at the Savoy Theatre due to popular demand. Michael Mayer’s “exhilarating embrace of a production – Independent” will now run until 10 September 2016 – marking the musical’s 50th anniversary year. Tickets for the extended booking period production starring Olivier and BAFTA award-winning actress and “phenomenal talent – Independent” Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice go on sale today.

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Press pass: All the reviews and pics of Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

In musical theatre happenings, the big news last night was London’s first major revival of Jule Styne’s Broadway classic Funny Girl. The big question: could Sheridan Smith lay to rest the ghost of Barbra Streisand, who originated the role of Fanny Brice on stage and (Oscar-winning) screen? And the big answer: a resounding yes.

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FUNNY GIRL – Menier Chocolate Factory

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

Imelda Staunton may have just wowed in Styne and Sondheim’s Gypsy, but hard on her heels is Sheridan Smith’s take on Fanny Brice. In a role that famously demands an unconventional beauty – and which, from both Broadway and Hollywood launch pads Barbra Streisand was rocketed into the highest of stellar orbits – Smith has enormously famous shoes to fill.

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NEWS: Darius Campbell joins Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, Full cast

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The Menier Chocolate Factory today announces full casting for their production of Funny Girl. Joining Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice are Valda Aviks (Mrs O’Malley), Natasha J Barnes (Emma/Mrs Meeker), Darius Campbell (Nick), Marilyn Cutts (Mrs Brice), Maurice Lane (Mr Keeney), Bruce Montague (Ziegfeld), Joel Montague (Eddie), Gay Soper (Mrs Strakosh); with Emma Caffrey, Matthew Croke, Joelle Dyson, Rebecca Fennelly, Luke Fetherston, Leah Harris, Kelly Homewood, Sammy Kelly and Stuart Ramsay completing the ensemble.

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NEWS: Sheridan Smith confirmed to play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at Menier Chocolate Factory

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The Menier Chocolate Factory today announces that award-winning actress Sheridan Smith returns to the theatre to play Fanny Brice in a major new revival of Funny Girl. The multi award-winning Michael Mayer directs the production, which opens on 2 December 2015, with previews from 20 November, and runs until 5 March 2016. This production is presented in association with Sonia …

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AMERICAN IDIOT – West End

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

Arts Theatre, London
****
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael MayerLyrics by Billie Joe ArmstrongMusic by Green DayDirected and choreographed by Racky Plews

Amelia Lily and Aaron Sidwell
It has been nearly three years since Green Day’s American Idiot played in the capital and Racky Plews’ take on the show, filling the summer slot at London’s relatively bijou Arts Theatre, delivers an energy and sound that is rarely seen in the West End.
The opening television sequence of various cable news snippets throws the audience into the story’s recent historical time, ingeniously drawing them into a single TV set which replaces the more lavish multiple-screen settings, typically found in a larger scale production. Sara Perks’ design work makes effective use of background art around the stage, mimicking a captive glued to the TV set and thus cleverly and appropriately setting the tone for the opening number, American Idiot.
The show’s distinctly modern-era story era follows three young men, Johnny, Tunny and Will, struggling to make sense of a seemingly directionless post 9/11 suburban wasteland, filled with nothing but misinformation, mediocrity and vacuous reality. As in nature so in life – vacuums are abhorred – and it is variously drugs, military service and disparate relationships with girls that fill the boys lives.
Of the three, Aaron Sidwell’s Johnny gives a solid lead performance, combining charisma, presence and humour. Steve Rushton as Will and Alexis Gerred’s Tunny manage to define the frustrations, anger and yet also the hope of their generation.
One of this musical’s curiosities is that the show’s girls, whilst vital to its plot, are also strangely marginalised in the narrative. The harshly named Whatsername is played by Amelia Lily (she of X-Factor fame and now making a creditable crossover into musical theatre) whilst Raquel Jones is stunning as the show’s Extraordinary Girl.
In what can prove a tough gig seeking to replicate a band, Mark Crossland does a stellar job as musical director. Alex Marschisone [drums], Brock Eddowes [Bass] and Tommaso Varvello [Guitar] combine to produce a sound that offers up a worthy tribute to the original band.
Plews’ vision of the show’s staging and dance is inspirational, reflecting a broad, hands-on grasp of modern popular culture. In her programme notes she speaks of having grown up to Green Day’s pop-punk sound and her work not only defines a respect for the music, it also evidences a profound understanding of Billy Joe Armstrong’s nuance. Powerful stuff.
Whether you’re a fan of quality new musical theatre or just love the music and want to experience the songs of a generation, then go. Green Day’s American Idiot is one of the most exciting and invigorating shows in town.

Runs until 27th September