The Exorcist (Live Review)

See the source image

18+ – The Phoenix Theatre, London – tickets from £30.00

Official WebsiteBox Office (until 10th March 2018)


 

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT REGAN

While the easily-petrified may turn their noses up at the very prospect of seeing a theatrical adaptation of one of the most chilling books/films of all time, there is no denying that with the bulk of the action taking place in a single location (a simple bedroom), that William Peter Blatty’s horror masterpiece lends itself remarkably well to the stage.

… Keep Scuttling!

Aladdin The Musical (Live Review)

Prince Edward Theatre, London – A Delfont Mackintosh Theatre

Official Website – Box Office (Booking until February 2018)


 

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

As a much-watched and much-adored film in my youth, the recently-opened West End production of Disney’s animated classic Aladdin has been on my “must see” list since it made the move from Broadway to UK shores in June of last year. After far fewer than “One Thousand and One Nights,” I was fortunate enough to take a magic carpet ride to London’s Prince Edward Theatre last week for a weekday evening performance of this magical musical extravaganza.

… Keep Scuttling!

Thriller Live (Live Review)

Norwich Theatre Royal – 13th-18th January 2017 – £8-£32.50

Directed and choreographed by: Gary Lloyd

Executive director: Adrian Grant

Official Show websiteTour Tickets


BOOGIE WONDERLAND

Recently recognised as the 17th longest running production in West End history, in the eight years it has been thrilling audiences I have seen Gary Lloyd’s spectacular tribute to the King of Pop on three separate occasions. Each time it has been on tour from its established base at London’s Lyric Theatre, and each time it has improved significantly, growing more confident, more ebullient, more honed.

… Keep Scuttling!

Peter Pan Goes Wrong (TV Review)

Mad About the Musicals (Live Review)

Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds – Thursday 16th June – 7:30pm

Official Website10th Anniversary Tour Tickets


 

JUKEBOX MUSICAL

Last night I was supposed to be sat in a sea of 80,000 Coldplay fans singing along to “Fix You” at Wembley Stadium, but the fates conspired to alter my plans, so instead I happily accepted an invitation to the oldest Regency Theatre in the county (fact) to watch an M.A. Promotions production called Mad About the Musicals, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by bringing former Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates along for a whistle-stop country-wide sing-song.

Fronted by jubilant show creator, producer and director Michael Courtney (who reminded me of Michael Ball, although another member of my group threw Alan Titchmarsh’s name into lookie-likie contention), MAtM’s concept is a simple one: a celebratory selection box of the very best songs from the musicals of stage and screen, intercut with onstage interplay between the five main singers and banter with the audience.

Having not seen any of the previous nine years’ productions, I can only imagine that a need to spruce things up year-on-year has lead to such a broad and diverse set-list this time around. Whilst I have no qualms with being introduced to some of the more obscure gems of the genre, the sheer number of songs – from Funny Girl, Dreamgirls and Jekyll & Hyde to name but three – which I had not encountered before has lead me to re-evaluate what I thought was my rather knowledgeable acquaintance with the genre. As such, I was beholden to Michael Courtney’s introductions when we reached half-time with only numbers from Miss Saigon and a rousing We Will Rock You medley striking a chord with me.

While the second half – opening with an attention-grabbing selection from The Phantom of the Opera and closing with a five song run-through from everyone’s favourite Les Misérables – provided a more comfortably familiar anthology, what stood out most was how underutilised star name Gareth Gates was. He was the first man on stage at curtains up, but after some jovial repartee with compère Michael (including a self-deprecating jibe about Gareth’s strugglesome stutter) he receded backstage and was by far the least seen of the singers through the night.

Front and centre on the posters to get bums on seats, it was also true that new-to-the-company Gareth – whose primary strength is in pop songs, lest we forget – had the softest/weakest voice of the group, with Michael and the terrific trio of leading ladies each astounding with some assured and belting vocal acrobatics, particularly during duets and complex layered harmonies. Any seriousness during some of the more tender ballads (such as Jesus Christ Superstar) did sometimes feel at odds with the over-rehearsed pantomime-esque (mis-)behaviour between songs, but this was a variety show and that they delivered.

Michael made multiple complementary references to the beauty of the diminutive venue, helping to personalise the banter, but despite the Theatre Royal’s revered history, it must be said that size is not its strength. Despite being on row F, I felt close enough to count the hairs in Gareth’s designer stubble! Indeed, when the colourful lighting rig swathed the audience in light during the more upbeat numbers, my heart went out to the live band and singers who were forced to look out at a solid-but-patchy audience, with the front row in particular looking depressingly threadbare. Wembley Stadium, this was not. Nevertheless, the company behind Mad About the Musicals never let their smiles slip and the show went on with theatrically game gusto.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars


Photo and poster courtesy of the official Mad About the Musicals Facebook page – I did not take or design these, nor infer ownership. No copyright infringement intended.

COLLABRO ‘Act Two’ Tour (Live Review)


Cambridge Corn Exchange – 17th March 2016 – 7.45pm
Official Twitter – Tickets available HERE


PHANTASTIC OF THE POPERA

Two years and two hit albums on from being crowned Britain’s Got Talent champions, the world’s first self-proclaimed “Musical Theatre Super Group” are back on the road in support of their sophomore LP, last summer’s #2 reaching Act Two, and their stop at Cambridge’s Corn Exchange venue last night marked the unofficial start of the return leg, falling as it did halfway through their 6 week, 27 date nationwide endeavour.

Following a soulful support set from one man and his piano, AJ Brown (who blew me away and will get a blog post all his own in the near future), Collabro-teers Michael, Richard, Jamie, Matt and Thomas were platform-lifted onto the impressive stage (replete with circular stairway to house their own live orchestra) for a technically flawless and uplifting two act show, which kicked off with the rousing “Circle of Life” from The Lion King.

The set list successfully combined all their biggest West End and Broadway renditions (“Stars” and “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Mis, “Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz, “Memory” from Cats) as well as a healthy smattering of well known songs from other genres (Boyzone’s “No Matter What”, Kodaline’s “All I Want” and some swinging jazz hits) given a unique Collabro makeover. As the crossover kings remarked cheekily before a potentially “cheesy” number:

“Collabro can sing ANYTHING!”

This really was a top class variety performance, with some stellar lighting choices complementing the audio masterclass with visual pizzazz. If I was to be completely honest, as much as I recognised and admired the five piece’s harmonious vocal acumen in the first half, it wasn’t until their return to Les Mis  with “Bring Him Home” and a strapping Phantom of the Opera medley (where they were joined by assured soprano special guest Catriona Murray) in the second act where the full majesty of their powerful voices truly grabbed and moved me like they did on BGT in 2014.

The group were in high spirits in between numbers (even if it did occasionally feel over-rehearsed), breaking from the formality of their smart suits and glitzy ballroom-esque decor to lend validity to song choices (such as one member blubbing watching The Fault in Our Stars), recite humorous behind the scenes anecdotes and banter amongst themselves – at one point even using a selfie stick to snap the whole venue! It was nice to see a more human aspect behind their knockout lungs, and this aided in bringing some humour to an already highly entertaining show.

Bravo, Collabro!

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars


Photo copyright Collabro, 2016. No infringment intended. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cd17RwyWwAAhs9d.jpg