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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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WATCH: David Bedella sings ‘I Won’t Send You Roses’ ahead of LMTO concert, Full cast

In Competitions, Concerts, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Press Releases, Sticky, Ticket recommendations, Video by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Full casting has been announced for next weekend’s London Musical Theatre Orchestra much-anticipated concert presentation of Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel, which runs for one night only at Hackney Empire on Saturday 23 September 2017. Have you got your tickets yet? Have you entered the competition on our sister site StageFaves.com?

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Ready to Tap Your Troubles Away? David Bedella & Natasha Barnes gear up for LMTO’s Mack & Mabel

In Concerts, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Photos, Press Releases, Sticky, Ticket recommendations by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Just a little over two weeks to go until the next star-studded concert presentation from the London Musical Theatre Orchestra. Have you got your tickets yet for Mack and Mabel, starring David Bedella, Natasha J Barnes and Tiffany Graves?

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NEWS: Donna McKechnie, John Owen-Jones & full The Wild Party cast announced

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

Full casting is announced today for Michael John LaChiusa’s THE WILD PARTY, which receives its first major London production at The Other Palace, playing from Monday 13 February to Saturday 1 April 2017, with a press night on Monday 20 February. THE WILD PARTY will be the inaugural production at The Other Palace, formerly St. James Theatre, when it reopens in February …

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INTERVIEW: Spotlight On… Tiffany Graves

In Cabaret, Interviews, Musicals by Helen McWilliamsLeave a Comment

She’s played Velma Kelly in Chicago, appeared in The Producers, Kiss Me Kate and Sweet Charity amongst many other successful shows. Her cabarets have received critical acclaim – including an Also Recognised Awards nomination this year for her Desperate Divas cabaret with Anita Louise Combe – and she’s about to embark upon two more cabaret dates at the Crazy Coqs. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…. Tiffany Graves!

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KISS ME, KATE – Touring

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

Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds

***

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Bella and Samuel Spewack
Directed by Jo Davies

Quirjin De Lang, Jeni Bern and Company

Opera North, a leading UK arts organisation whose key focus and goal is to ‘actively challenge conventional perceptions of opera’ (as stated in the programme), return to Leeds Grand this Autumn to present their latest season of work, with this new production of Kiss Me, Kate being the first in a diverse line-up.
Kiss Me, Kate tells the story of Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, two actors whose tempestuous love lives take centre stage as they perform in a new musical version of The Taming of the Shrew in 1940s Baltimore. Almost fabricated as a play within a play, Kiss Me, Kate takes a different tack to the musical theatre norm and allows the audience to see both the on stage and off stage dramatics and hysteria of the story’s main arc.
Quirijn De Lang and Jeni Bern, the key protagonists, shine in their roles offering the audience a true abundance of wit, charm and delight as they work with an overly complex plot that takes an hour and a half to actually get to the point. Whilst there are some great comedic interludes from Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin as Gunman 1 and Gunman 2, Kiss Me, Kate struggles to sell itself as a piece of high class musical theatre.
With a running time of almost 3 hours, Kiss Me, Kate fails to pack the punch required for such a long piece of theatre, with scenes drawn out for much longer than required. At least half an hour could be trimmed and still allow a piece that could be easily grasped without becoming boring due to a lack of tension, suspense or characters one can truly care for.
Tiffany Graves and Ashley Day feel a tad miscast as the secondary characters Lois Lane and Bill Calhoun – there’s a surprising lack of chemistry between the two and apart from a wonderful, albeit small, comedic moment in Tom, Dick or Harry. Katie Kerr as Hattie seems underused with an absolutely divine voice that opens up the first act in Another Op’nin, Another Show, whilst Claire Pascoe as the Stage Manager is another ensemble member who stands out, grabbing our attention as soon as she walks on stage.
The main saving grace of this production is its music. Superbly conducted by David Charles Abell, Kiss Me, Kate harks back to Musical Theatre’s golden era. The best moments are the ensemble numbers particularly Too Darn Hot the second act opener.
The lighting and set designs for this production are ambitious considering the size of the theatre but Ben Cracknell and Colin Richmond do a remarkable job, providing stunning backdrops that draw the audience in and help sell a flawed story.
Kiss Me, Kate’s lack of purpose and confusing storyline will possibly leave many feeling a little cold and put out. For those Shakespeare aficionados however who fancy seeing something a bit different and unconventional, then it may well prove the perfect night out.

Runs until 31 October and then toursGuest reviewer: Megan Kinsey

THE PRODUCERS – Touring

In Musicals, Regional theatre, Touring by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Ah, The Producers. Probably our favourite of the glut of movies turned musicals of the past decade or so. The original production was a wonder of un-PC satire that was far and away the best thing Mel Brooks had turned his hand to in years. More than ten years later and the show is well established in the canon of musicals that head out regularly on tour. Has familiarity dulled the humour of the piece?