Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Close To you - Criterion Theatre

I left this production thinking ‘wow, is there any song that Bacharach didn’t have a hand in?’  Around thirty of his songs (including Walk on By, Magic Moments, I’ll never Fall In Love Again, What’s New Pussycat) are reworked against a backdrop of suspended guitars, old lamps and sofas, giving it the feel of something out of the 70’s. A few audience members are given their five minutes of fame as they sit on the sofas on stage throughout the show. Some seated around me found it difficult to watch in silence so there was the occasional outburst of singing.
There’s no doubt that the seven strong cast are highly talented singers and musicians but with no dialog and no real ‘performance’ as such, it did beg the question as to whether this is actual ‘theatre’. There’s the odd interjection of drama; a cast member reads and then tears up an old letter but just how it fits in with the song is unclear.  
Though lacking drama on stage, I did experience a theatre first. Three minutes into the second half the house lights came up and a member of crew appeared on stage to say we had to evacuate the building. Information was very slow in coming forward. Apparently a fire alarm had been activated so we waited idly outside for about twenty minutes, next to the fire truck, before being allowed back in for the continuation. By this time almost a quarter of the audience had left but the show continued on with just as much energy as the first half.

CloseTo You can be seen @ Criterion Theatre until 10th January

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Sinatra - London Palladium

Frank Sinatra is resurrected on screen as the story of his life and music is told through photos and sound clips. Accompanied by a spectacular 24 piece live orchestra he belts out several of his well-loved classics; although I was personally disappointed that my wait for That’s Life was in vain. Amongst the high tech video projection, live dancers parade the stage in clumsily choreographed movements which start very slow in the first half and liven up after intermission. The most enjoyable part of the evening for me was when his daughter, Nancy, appeared in the flesh to commend the show and share honestly how difficult it had been for her to watch. If you’re a fan of his music, then I’m sure you would have thoroughly enjoyed this magnificent tribute for his centenary. 

This show @ London Palladium has now ended  

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Bend It Like Beckham - Phoenix Theatre

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a football fan or even remotely interested in the game to appreciate this production. Neither do you have to have seen the film. Jess, a Beckham-crazy young, female footballer from an Indian family faces many protests from her family as she attempts to excel in the game. She becomes embroiled in a love rival between her friend and team mate Jules, over Joe, their football coach. And all this amidst the frenzied preparations for her older sister’s wedding. It’s a happy, feel good show with some clever songs and plenty of vibrant colours. Okay a football suspended on a string is a little tacky, but how else can you successfully kick a ball on stage and angle it correctly?

Bend It Like Beckham can be seen @ Phoenix Theatre until 24th October 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Lord Of The Dance, Dangerous Games - Dominion Theatre

After such a good run of great shows, it was just a matter of time before there would be one that made me think I shouldn’t have wasted my time. Unfortunately Lord Of The Dance – Dangerous Games did just that. James Keegan is a talented dancer and all his moves were on point. Other than that, I struggle to say anything positive about this show. It was hard to keep up with the constant costume and scene changes, one minute we were watching robots, then music box style dancers, the dancers in their underwear with no easily understandable link. Background changed from butterflies and waterfall to something that looked to be out of a darker realm, again with no aparent connection. Add to this the mediocre live singing which I could not quite believe I was hearing on a West End stage. As tempted as I was to leave at the intermission I regrettable decided to stick it out. A hologram at the end of a trio Michael Flately does made it no better.   

This show at the Dominion Theatre has now ended 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

War Horse - New London Theatre

It goes without saying that the major attraction of War Horse is its life-sized creation of the horses Joey and Tophorn. Just watching how these huge puppets are maneuvered so gracefully and skillfully throughout the scenes is astonishing. The transformation of little Joey from a small horse into a full grown adult is breath-taking. And all this before you add the stellar performance of the cast.  The drama, the passion and the tension are all perfectly encapsulated in the music and James Backway does an excellent job of portraying the heartfelt emotion of Albert Narracot for his horse. This is definitely one to see again.

War Horse can be seen @ The New London Theatre until March 2016