Dear Evan Hansen – Music Box Theatre.

Tonight I got to see Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theatre in NYC. Dear Evan Hansen is a new musical by Pasek and Paul starring Ben Platt. Pasek and Paul are notable for their music in La La Land. The musical follows the story of Evan Hansen, a socially anxious high school senior; a letter that was never supposed to be read; and a lie that should never have been told.I had been itching to see this since I saw Ben Platt perform ‘Waving through a Window’ on Seth Meyers. With Dear Evan Hansen winning six Tony awards and having been heralded as the Hamilton of the 2016/17 season, I was expecting big things. I was not disappointed.

DEH is a deeply emotional show. This is definitely aided by Ben Platt’s brilliant performance, but also by the directing and staging of everything, particularly the musical numbers. ‘You will be found’ and ‘Waving through a Window’, both gave me chills. The most wonderful thing about the staging was that it was so simplistic. The musical felt so contemporary, which is so hard to do. Of course, another factor that made it feel so modern was the use of social media as a part of the narrative and the set. The set was so sparse and bare; with rotating platforms that was just a small part of the set. The technology used in creating the set and atmosphere was fantastic. The design of social media, videos, emails and letters constantly bombarding stage, made you feel so overwhelmed, but so alone at the same time.The cast were fantastic. Ben Platt was brilliant, however not the only star of the show though, Colton Ryan, Connor Murphy, and Laura Dreyfuss, Zoe Murphy, were both fantastic and definitely contributed towards those six Tony Awards. The music by Pasek and Paul was fantastic. I can’t imagine this story being told in any other form. The music was vital in showing how the characters felt, without being too ‘musical theatre-y’, again another factor in why the show felt so contemporary. Despite the story being very melancholic and emotional, it was surprisingly funny. They managed to make it funny effortlessly, without it being too corny.

I think one of the reasons the story resonates with so many people, is because it’s so relatable. It’s so easy to feel alone in a time where everything is instant, and validation is usually given in the form of shares and likes. People get to curate their lives. It’s so hard to see what people actually feel. To use the cliché – you can be surrounded by people, and still feel alone. Almost everyone has felt like Evan Hansen at least once in their life (minus the dubious moral choices). It’s a story that’s been told before, but now it’s been brought to 2017, with the music and the technical aspects, it’s so much easier to see in everyday life.

I absolutely loved the show, despite my fears. I’m so glad I got a chance to see it with the original cast. It was a melancholic, funny, technical wonder, with a hint of hope strung throughout it.  I have so much else to say about this, but luckily that will be in an essay, so you don’t have to worry. I’m sorry that this is still so long. Hopefully, this show will transfer to London next year!

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Groundhog Day- Musical

Today I saw Groundhog Day at the August Wilson Theatre in NYC. This is the third show I've seen on Broadway – And the first one I've thoroughly enjoyed. Groundhog Day is a musical adaptation of the film by Tim Minchin. I've never seen the film, so this was my first encounter of the story. I didn't know what I expected, but it wasn't what I saw.

The film translated surprisingly well to the stage, with the lighting providing a clear visualisation of the days repeating themselves. Usually I would hate a show that tried to be a film, however in this production, they did that, but very effectively, when dealing with scenes that were hard to adapt to the stage – For example, the police chase scene. The show was repetitive, but not boring by any stretch. Tim Minchin brought the wackiness and surreality of the film to the stage. Notably with a wonderfully, darkly comedic song about suicide, called 'Hope'.

The cast were fantastic, you couldn't help but fall a little in love with weatherman Phil Conners (Andy Karl). And everyone found comfort in Barrett Doss's Rita Hanson. The duo worked brilliantly together, and their voices complimented each other beautifully. The characters were full of life. Every character had their own story. They were never just there for the sake of it.

It was wacky, fun, truthful- with a message without being condescending, and it was funny.

Unfortunately Groundhog Day is closing tomorrow, however it is rumored to be returning to London, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you can.

 

( I do have a backlog of reviews to get up- mainly from the Fringe and I will get them up when I have a chance! But from now until December, I will be based in New York, so will be reviewing shows over here)

Exile- Ed Fringe

On Monday morning I went to see Exile at the Space Triplex (At 9.30am I might add). Exile is a feminist piece of theatre, that depicts six women thought history and fiction exiled to a non-descript island.

It was a really interesting piece of Theatre, where time was non-existant, but yet omnipresent throughout the whole piece. Creating a bubble of time, which almost felt suffocating. The use of physical Theatre was very effective in exploring the gentle and loving relationships between the women, whilst at the same time exposing the brutality of the world outside of the exile. This was all aided by the acting which was just fantastic. The cast embodied the array of characters which all complimented each other, and worked very well as a company.

Overall definitely worth getting up for at 930am!

Commons- Ed Fringe

Yesterday afternoon, I saw Commons, from the St Andrews Theatre company, directed by Louis Catliff, written by Elliot Douglas.

Commons explores the relationship between an MP and his rent boy, the power dynamic between them, and the story of their unconventional love (?).

I really enjoyed the script and the characters. They were well thought out and very defined, ( If not a tad obvious in some places). This was aided by the distinct acting from the two leads. The two leads had an interesting chemistry between them, on occasion very awkward, and at other times like a newly wed couple- All fitting to the script.
The order of the scenes was very insightful, by going backwards it gave all of character background, without slowing down, or becoming clunky. The use of the chorus provided a much needed comedic relief, and a break from a script that could become very stuffy.

Overall a solid Fringe show with an interesting story.

Trainspotting live – In Yer Face Theatre Company

I had the absolute pleasure to see Trainspotting tonight at the Pleasance EICC. I had tried to see this production last year but it completely sold out. I must say I felt like a very bad Scot, having not seen any form of trainspotting before, but I can definitely say I was blown away by the performance this evening.

Trainspotting is a completely immersive theatre event. I wouldn’t call it a show at all, It really is an experience. When I spoke to Greg Esplin, Tommy, He described it like a hit of drugs. It starts off with an amazing high, lots of laughs and fun, and then very suddenly and rapidly you fall into withdrawal and all becomes very painful.

One thing that I find often with Immersive Theatre, is that the actors can often fall short as the audience are so distracted by everything else. However, in this production, the acting is phenomenal. There were comedic moments, heart-wrenching moments, and moments where I wanted to look away.  Esplin, was fantastic, loveable yet tragic. Paired with Gavin Ross, Mark, they both just brought the show to life- with the rest of the fantastic cast. And of course their 8th cast member – The audience.

I would highly recommend- It really is a must see for the fringe. But book soon, because it will sell out!

 

Trainspotting is running at The Tunnel at EICC Pleasance until the 28th at 18:00, 19:45, and at 21:30 on Fridays and Saturdays

Half A Sixpence.

I went to see Half a Sixpence tonight at the Noel Coward Theatre, starring Charlie Stemp. Half a sixpence is a classic rag to riches story concerning humble Kent man, Arthur Kipps, and the love triangle he manages to get stuck in the middle of.

As the show started, the overture began with banjos. This made me quite dubious, a musical overture beginning with banjos? However, the music transitioned into a very classical musical genre. Which, of course, is very catchy, although not particularly unique.  However a few songs did stick out to me, due to the emotional performances from the cast.

Stemp’s Kipps, is naïve, a tad daft, but extremely lovable. His childish allure, shines throughout the performance and brought so much energy to the show. I just wanted to hug him throughout the whole performance. The whole cast complimented each other, and the chemistry between all the apprentices was very playful, and their scenes were always enjoyable to watch. I really did enjoy the show; it was extremely feel good. It had me smiling throughout the whole show.

Although I do want to mention, also because I know it was a controversy during the casting process – It was extremely white. I do think Stemp was a perfect fit for Kipps, however the whole cast of 28 is seemingly white (I don’t want to assume anyone’s nationality). I don’t believe that they didn’t see any POC that were suitable for the show. And if an excuse is that there weren’t that many POC in 1904- They also didn’t break into song and dance in 1904…

Politics aside, I did enjoy the show immensely, and would recommend for a fun light hearted night. However, I would campaign for more diversity in the West End, as it is so ridiculously important, across so many shows. This one was just glaringly obvious

Much Ado About Nothing – Globe Theatre

I genuinely have so much love and appreciation for this play. I’ve been through a lot with it, so it’s only fitting that the first play I see at The Globe Theatre, is this one. I will warn you now, I love this play so much, that I could probably see a terrible production and still love it, so I may be a tad bias, but I’ll try my best.

This version of Much Ado is set in the 1910 Mexican revolution, which just brings so much colour to the show. In the set, costumes and the whole tone. Even though the show is primarily a comedy, the Mexican culture breathes new life into it. In the form of the music, the costumes, all the scene transitions, and the vendetta against Americans- which did make me chuckle, especially with the large volume of Americans surrounding me.

I tried to look at this production, with an extra-critical eye to compensate my love for the play. At the beginning I thought that perhaps, Matthew Needham, Benedick, and Beatriz Romilly, Beatrice, were lacking in chemistry. However, as the play moved along, I was quickly proved wrong, they were fantastic. They managed to get the balance between comedy and gravity, which is very tricky in most Shakespeare comedies. The rest of the cast cannot be dismissed at all. They all worked effortlessly together. I hope that one day I could be a part of a cast that is so in sync.

It was also surprisingly enjoyable watching it from the yard. I thought I would hate standing for three hours, but also didn’t want to shell out £40+ for a ticket. It reminded me what theatre is about, because there was 700 or so people standing in the yard together, we all ending up talking about the play. It got people talking and socialising. It’s one of the reasons Theatre was so popular in Shakespeare’s time.

And on a final, and more personal note it brought back a lot of feelings for me, of various things that have happened, and everything the play meant to me. By the end of it, I was very emotional, however, I am almost fairly certain the tears were from laughter.

I’ve tried to keep this short and sweet, but definitely go check it out if you can. And I would say the Yard tickets are the best way to go – £5, same price as lunch at McDonalds. And far better for you!

Woyzeck- Old Vic.

Tonight I saw Woyzeck at the Old Vic, starring John Boyega. Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is an exploration on how War affects young minds, and the lengths people will go to escape the clasp of poverty. Set in the rage of the Cold War and the war in Belfast, this new adaptation by Joe Murphy, brings all the tension and life of war to the stage.

I absolutely loved this production.  The industrial set, had a sinister air to it, paired with the lighting and the ominous music, it all became a bit of a sensory overload. I was overwhelmed with dread, and fear, which just encompassed the whole theatre, and set the tone perfectly.

John Boyega’s Woyzeck was loveable, but complex. The character constantly surprised me. And I can’t imagine how physically taxing that role would be on him. After the run finishes he said he would be taking a well deserved holiday. Ben Batt’s Andrews, brought a needed comedic break to the drama. Also the relationship between Boyega’s Woyzeck, and Sarah Greene’s Marie was so perfect. And the development, or perhaps deterioration was so clear and concise.

The thing I loved most about this production, apart from the set, has to be the direction. There was such a clear vision in this show, which I don’t seem to see a lot of.  The second act was so confusing. I could not tell what was real or not, this was enhanced by the lighting and the set, where the attention to detail was remarkable. You were really transported into Woyzeck’s mind. I felt stressed, and anxious, and scared. I had no idea how I was going to react to this show, and I just wanted to go home and curl up. It stressed me out. And I think that’s fantastic!

It closes this week so, if you get the chance, please go check it out.

 

 

Blink Barons Court Theatre

Last night I was invited to go see Blink at The Barons Court Theatre directed by Peter Kavanagh, starring Minnie Murphy and Joe McArdle, written by Phil Porter. Blink explores the ideas of love, relationships, between two very damaged people, Sophie and Jonah, played by Minnie Murphy and Joe McArdle respectively.

I spent a long time trying to work out how best to describe the humour, it wasn’t quite absurdist, but it wasn’t run of the mill comedy. I finally settled on quirky. You laughed where you wouldn’t quite expect it. This is largely part to the capturing performances from McArdle and Murphy. The chemistry between the two actors is apparent from the first duologue, despite the fact that they rarely interact in the first half. This all enhanced by the beautiful intimate space of the basement thrust theatre, that created a personal connection between the audience and actors. The different character skits are welcome break from an otherwise fairly slow and serious play. And in these times, McArdle uses his face more than his words, to get the comedy across. McArdle, embodied a childlike innocence, in his gentle portrayal of Jonah that had a melancholic undertone. Murphy almost paralleled this, in her melancholic, serious portrayal that had innocence strung through it.  I must say that I was surprised, that the play didn’t become stilted or clunky in its flow. Many two actor pieces can become forced, and I was worried about that. However, it was paced very well, and flowed, despite a short interval in the middle.

The attention to detail was evident in the sound and set. Simplistic, yet effective. The music however, I found to be slightly overwhelming, if not unnecessary, in the first half. It’s understandable given Kavanagh background, however I think it is too much in the theatre, especially this small space. It did, although work in the second half, and felt almost triumphant.

The idea of love, however unconventional, is prominent throughout the piece. A quirky and wholesome performance. It had me laughing, wistful, and sometimes heartbroken.

Blink is running at the Barons Court Theatre until the 20th of May.

Chatroom- SLAM Theatre

Last night I had the pleasure to see Chatroom by Enda Walsh, by SLAM Theatre, I went along, as a friend of mine was the rehearsal stage manager, so I’ll try to not be biased.

Chatroom is about a chatroom funnily enough. It’s an exploration of the problems a lot of teenagers face, and their different reactions to it, through the use of social media. This production by SLAM Theatre, produced by Andy Patterson and Anthony Papamichael, and directed by Hector Moyes, was produced in the charming etcetera theatre. The set was simplistic, which allowed the audience to focus on the acting. The use of the movement was a nice break from the intense story.

IMG_5686Pictured here, Anthony Papamichael, Emily Pearce (Rehearsal Stage Manager), Hector Moyes and Mark Teale, from left to right. 

The whole cast were brilliant, the acting was subtle, but intense, which was very effective in this small theatre space. I’d love to go into detail on all of the cast’s different characters, like how I hated Mark Teale’s, William, from the minute he came on stage (which may have to do with how insulted one of my childhood memories); and how Eddie Chamberlin’s Jack, was endearing, but well-meaning. Nick Pearce’s Jim, was nervous, and easily influenced, but also really likeable. Charlotte East’s Eva, had a lot more to her character, than what her lines revealed, very similar to Tania Van Amse’s Laura, who’s last speech, definitely had a lot of the audience in tears. Susie Barton’s Emily, had an air of innocence, and sweetness. I really liked her chemistry with Pearce.

The whole show dealt with very serious issues, and it would be great to do at schools, and after talking to the cast they told me that they have done a workshop with a school, and are hoping to take it around schools. Anyway, I’m hoping for big things- they’re a great emerging theatre company with lots of potential.