Well, it has been a busy start to the new year for me, attending seven shows across the month, with five of them within a period of just five days. I can tell you I was absolutely shattered and ill after that many shows in such a short amount of time. I think, therefore, we can conclude that I would never be cut out to be an actor working in the theatre, doing 8 shows a week!
I feel I have done myself proud with the selection of shows I have attended in January as it has kept in line with my declaration to see a more varied selection of shows. It was a good mix of old and new shows for me, plays and musicals, and limited runs and long-running shows. I have finally, in my opinion, stopped being picky and have just begun booking tickets for a good variety of shows.
Summer and Smoke at the Duke of York’s Theatre (4/1/19):
First show of the year for me was Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, a first for me as I have never seen a play by Tennessee Williams before. However, having heard such incredible reviews, and now having experienced it for myself, I am very glad I took the chance on seeing what was such a stunning play. There is so much I could probably say about the play overall, the staging, the pianos, the cast, the plot, but it is Patsy Ferran, for me, who stole the entire performance as the highly strung Alma Winemiller.
It was clear from the moment she first stepped onto the stage that she was going to be the standout performer as she began the play by quite literally hyperventilating. She created the moment so well that I honestly thought it was real and not part of the play. I was blown away by how Patsy put everything she had into her performance, managing to capture the audience’s hearts, and sympathies, from the absolute start. I cannot wait to see what she does next.
As for the play itself, I was informed by two people sat next to me that this was not one of Tennessee Williams’ best plays, but, for me, I felt it was a good place to start. The simplicity of the staging and the use of the pianos just added beauty to the production, allowing the performances and plot to shine through. I definitely want to see more plays by Tennessee Williams in the future, especially if they are staged and performed as beautifully as Summer and Smoke was.
Songs for Nobodies at the Ambassadors Theatre (15/1/19):
Today Tix is fuelling my sudden increase of theatre visits and it is thanks to them that I nabbed a cheap ticket to this show and my first ever visit to this theatre. Even though, I only booked my seat just days before the performance I attended, it wasn’t sold out and I ended up having a whole row to myself. I could have actually moved forward, but as the women who were originally sat in front of me had chosen to move, leaving me with a clear view, I just didn’t see the point.
The show was built around the talents of stunning vocalist and actress, Bernadette Robinson and tells five individual stories of 5 ordinary women who meet 5 iconic women: Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Maria Callas. The “Nobodies” in the title of the play refers to the five ordinary women who tell their story of their meetings and the impact it had on their lives.The extraordinary part of all of this is that Bernadette Robinson plays every role, switching between different accents and singing styles with absolute ease.
What I saw was nothing short of spectacular and I am still in awe of the extraordinary and phenomenal talent of Bernadette Robinson. It was a truly touching, stunning and intimate performance that needs to be seen to grasp Robinson’s talent.
School of Rock at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (16/1/19):
I actually saw this just after it opened, with the original cast, when the theatre was still known as the New London. However, my daughter has been bugging for ages to go and see this, so with our yearly theatre trip for her birthday not sorted, I caved and booked tickets. I am so glad I did, because I had forgotten just how bloody talented the kids are and how they outshine the adults in the cast, at times.
I am not going to single out any of the kids as I feel they all deserve praise for their truly tremendous performances, no matter what role they played. Their talents in acting, singing and playing instruments absolutely blew me away and received so much love from the audience. I do want to praise Craig Gallivan, who was absolute perfection as Dewey Finn. He nailed the role, was incredibly funny, vocally fantastic and, at times, reminded me of Jack Black, the original Dewey Finn in the movie. He was fantastic with all of the kids, obviously having formed a great bond with them all as that shone through throughout the performance.
This is one of the few shows on the West End that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is not a fan of musicals. It certainly won my husband over when we originally saw and my daughter is now definitely a fan! I am sure she make take her again at some point this year!
Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (18/1/19):
After multiple attempts to get back to the room where it happens, I finally made it back 1 year and two days after my very first visit. Even better, I was lucky enough to sit front row, all thanks to a friend of mine nabbing seats the night before. The funny thing is, even with the new additions to the cast, it doesn’t feel like too much has changed, due to the fact that five out of ten leads stayed with the show, following cast change.
One thing I did noticed was that the bond between Jamael, Tarinn, Jason and Cleve (Hamilton, Mulligan, Lafayette and Laurens) seems so much tighter than it did a year ago and, for me, that just made the performance even more incredible. Funnily enough Jamael Westman had literally just come off a month’s holiday and it showed. He was more relaxed, incredibly funny and just pure brilliant.
I am still loving all the original cast members of the show, but I do need to mention Rachelle Ann Go’s truly stunning rendition of Burn. It was beautiful the first time I saw it, but, DAMN, she smashed it the second time round, thanks to the anger she managed to pour into the song. As for the new cast, I am loving the wonderful new additions, but it was Jon Robyns (King George III) and Dom Hartley-Harris (George Washington) who truly captured my attention. Jon had me in laughter throughout every one of his songs, which he nailed vocally, and Dom just blew me away with his gorgeous vocals as Washington, reminding me of a younger Christopher Jackson.
Hamilton is still as incredible as the first time I saw it. The songs are just as brilliant, the performances still as powerful, and it still managed to make me cry and laugh. It will certainly be capturing hearts for a long time to come.
A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic (19/1/19):
I know it was no longer Christmas, but I was not going to pass up the chance to see this stunning adaptation, written by Jack Thorne, once again. Led by Stephen Tompkinson, as Scrooge, and backed my an incredibly talented cast, it was just stunning as it was the first time round. I am already hoping that the adaptation is giving another run, even if it isn’t at the Old Vic.
One of the best elements of this play is the staging. Essentially, they performing in the round as the audience seated around the stage, which runs from the back of the normal stage and right down the centre of the stalls, with two parts stretching out to the boxes. Therefore, no matter where you are sat, you will have a great view. This time, I had booked for the stalls and was to able to enjoy seeing the cast within the audience, especially when Scrooge comes running through the audience and shaking hands with some people.
What I need to mention, more than anything, is their casting when it comes to Tiny Tim. It is all too easy to go with a abled-bodied boy, but the Old Vic chose not to, opening up the role to girls and disabled actors. They have recognised the need for representation, especially in role that is known to be a character whose illness is a critical part to the play. The child in the role at the performance I attended was absolutely brilliant, funny, and delivered his lines beautifully, so well done to the Old Vic!
Leave to Remain at the Lyric Hammersmith (19/1/19):
Before I even begin, it needs to be said that this show has NOTHING to do with Brexit. Yes, immigration is a factor, but the UK Referendum and its result is not what this show is about.
When the casting for this show was announced, I can admit that it was probably the main reason I booked a ticket. Any excuse to see Rakie Ayola, Tyrone Huntley, and Arun Blair-Mangat on stage again. It is always risky booking tickets without knowing anything about the show and its plot, but this certainly was worth it!
Leave to Remain tells the story of a gay couple, Obi and Alex, who both have a past they wish to keep hidden, but are forced to face when Alex’s visa to remain in the UK is threatened, also making the decision to get married to allow him to remain. The overall plot is simply brilliant as it is not afraid to tackle a variety of issues, from LGBT to addiction, amongst others. Even the music, written by Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, has been specifically design to fit the whole overall themes, choosing to ignore the traditional style of musicals for genres, such House and Dance, that are more likely to be found on the club/rave scene.
It was such incredible and fresh piece of theatre that had me uncertain if there would be happy ending for any of the characters. I have to praise the show for not being afraid to tackle the tough issues and the stunning cast and their performance.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre (24&25/1/19):
I will make this brief as you all know just how much I love this play.
Covers in this performance were: Emma Bown as Ginny Potter, Susan Lawson-Reynolds as Hermione Granger, Jordan Bamford as Scorpius Malfoy, Leah Haile as Polly Chapman, Jordan Paris as Yann Fredericks, Ryan J Mackay as Karl Jenkins, Dudley Dursley and Viktor Krum, and Sinead Sharkey as Moaning Myrtle and Lily Potter Sr.
Sadly, injuries have hit this cast hard over the past few months and has meant members from the Year 2 cast have needed to brought in to help cover roles or increase the number of ensemble cast members they have. So, thank you to those who have stepped in, despite having left to play, to help out when needed.
Absolutely delighted to have seen Susan covering Hermione and Jordan covering Scorpius. Both of them were incredible in the roles, with Jordan completely blowing me away with his stunning performance as Scorpius. The cast, as a whole, absolutely smashed the performance over the two nights and it was great to see so many covers on bringing different interpretations to their roles.
Trying not to think about the fact that the cast change announcement is now fast approaching as there are so many cast members I would love to continue on, but I know I cannot get my hopes up on who stays and on who leaves. As I was reminded at stage door by a couple of the cast members, when I briefly mentioned this, whoever the cast are for Year 4, they are bound to be good.