One of my hobbies is writing reviews of shows, usually musicals, that I’ve
seen. Mostly these have been in London,
though a few have been elsewhere. This is a little website of those reviews I
want to share with people, but which don’t have anywhere else to go. However,
if you don’t like amateur reviews then don’t read them. I’ve also written a lot of the reviews on Website
Louise Gold (a Fan
-Produced website about one of my favourite Musical Theatre performers)
Flahooley (Performance July/August 1997) -
A Review of Ian Marshall-Fisher’s
Lost Musicals concert staging of this musical about a puppet-builder who
accidentally brings to life a magic Arabian genie who doesn’t understand
capitalism and gets hunted by a witch.
Lost Musicals 1998 (Performances
of Summer 1998) - A review of the 1998
season of Ian Marshall-Fisher’s Lost
Musicals at The Barbican. Perhaps the most notable thing about this season of
five shows: As Thousands Cheers, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Hollywood
Pinafore, The Frogs, and, Strike Up The Band, was that the doyenne of the Lost
Musicals gang, Louise Gold, was absent, because she was appearing in a Mike
Leigh film. Fortunately many other regular members of the gang: Jessica Martin,
Stewart Permutt, Myra Sands, and, James Vaughan were present.
Mamma Mia review 2 (Performance of Tuesday 7 June 2001) - An
account of the second time I saw the hit musical Mamma Mia. I sometimes think
this might be subtitled “Super Trouper Star Saves Her Own Show” as: Pepper
seemed to have mislaid his Chemistry set, Rosie was short of a counterbalance,
and I don’t know what Tanya thought she was doing. All I can say is thank
goodness for Louise Plowright as Donna The Dynamo.
Anything Goes (Performance of 4 July 2002)
- A review of the Grange Park Opera production, which starred the redoubtable
Kim Criswell as Reno Sweeny. Apart from providing a full account of a very full
production of Anything Goes, this review is also an opportunity to compare Kim
Criswell with both Ethel Merman and Louise Gold.
Crowd (Performance of 20 October 2002 in Southampton) - A review of a
new little musical about Opera versus Jazz, which ends up with an opera diva,
played by a real one, Rosalind Plowright, doing a crossover, and very well she
does it too.
Todd (Performance of Friday 9 January 2004) - A review of the Royal Opera House
production. Is this an Opera or a Musical? or simply a piece of Music Theatre?
Whatever you call it it’s a jolly fine production. All the performers are good.
It’s quite a revelation how brilliantly many of these opera singers, among
them: Thomas Allen, William Dazeley, and, Rosalind Plowright can act; But the
surprise of the evening is Felicity Palmer.
Shooting Star Gala (Sunday 16 May
2004, Richmond Theatre, Surrey) - A review of
a gala at a local theatre. with a wealth of talent, including: Jane Asher,
Sarah Greene, Tony Hawks, Jessica Martin, Roger McGough, Tony Robinson,
Prunella Scales, and, Timothy West However, the highlight was the finale starring
Maria Friedman accompanied by Chris
Walker and Jason Carr.
Singin’ In The Rain (Saturday 7 August
2004, Sadlers Wells) - A review of The third Leicester Haymarket Team In
London’s musical. Turning a classic film into a good stage show is no mean
feat, but under Paul Kerryson’s
masterful direction Adam Cooper, Josefina Gabrielle, Simon Coulthard and
company make it their own.
Beauty And The Beast - A Musical
Pantomime (Wednesday 29 December 2004, The Lighthouse, Poole) - a review of The
Lighthouse Arts Centre in Poole’s Christmas
2004 Pantomime. While Cassidy Janson made a good Beauty and it was nice to see
Brian Cant as Beauty’s Father. It is the performances of Darren Bennett as
Anton and Louise Plowright as The Sorceress that deserve to be highlighted..
Silk Stockings (Sunday 22 May 2005) - A
review of Ian Marshall-Fisher’s
Discovering Lost Musicals concert staging of this musical. Lost Musicals
regulars Frank Lazarus, Jessica Martin, Neil McCaul, and James Vaughan, along
with Nigel Anthony and Martin Turner, ensure the show measures up to the kind
of standard we have come to expect from Ian
Six Pictures Of Lee Miller
(Thursday 14 July 2005, The Minerva Theatre, The Chichester Festival Theatre) -
a review of a new musical by Jason Carr
and Edward Kemp, about early 20th century female photographer Lee
Miller, starring Anna Francolini, with strong supporting performances. It’s
great charm lies in the fact that it is not trying to be a mass crowd-pulling
block buster. It simply concentrates on being a good well-written
well-performed piece of sophisticated music theatre.
White and the Seven Dwarves (Thursday 29 December 2005, The Lighthouse,
Poole) - a review of The Lighthouse Arts Centre in Poole’s
Christmas 2005 Pantomime. Even better than last year’s Beauty And The Beast
(and that was good). Darren Bennett and Anthony Reed make a splendid team. Mark
Osmand creates real character, and, Brian Cant is a seasoned entertainer; But
the star of the show is supertrouper Louise Plowright who delivers an admirable
tour de force as The Wicked Queen.
(Sunday 23 April 2006, Lillian Bayliss Theatre Sadlers Wells) – A review of Ian Marshall-Fisher’s Discovering Lost Musicals
concert staging of this musical. Dutch Baroness Issy Van Randwyck makes the
jolly English title role, and Cole Porter’s songs, very much her own; with
strong support from such versatile performers as: Stewart Permitt, Gay Soper,
James Vaughan, and, Matt Zimmerman amongst others; while Jason
Carr does an admirable job with the musical accompaniment.
Avenue Q (Tuesday
20 June 2006, Noel Coward Theatre) – A review of the London Production. Four
new puppeteers do their best in a fun, feel good, groundbreaking, edifying
show. The puppeteers (Julie Atherton, Claire Foster, Simon Lipkin, and, Jon
Robyns), clearly have potential, although they lack the polish of experience.
The score is quite decent, the lyrics thoughtful, and the book an affectionate
edifying take-off of a certain much loved pre-school children’s programme.
Bad Girls – The
Musical (Friday 23 June 2006, The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds) – a review of a rather weird new musical, in the
seemingly current trend for musicals-inspired-by-TV-programmes. Does this
musical ever quite decide what style or musical it is? or is it a new type of
musical? The cast (which includes: Nicole Faraday, Hal Fowler, Neil McDermott,
Louise Plowright, Laura Rogers, and, Hannah Waddingham) generally do their
best, despite the casting being a little unbalanced in places. The score isn’t
bad (there’s at least one number that is actually catchy), but the book is
3 November 2006, Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton) – A review of a mixed pro-am
production starring: Julian Forsyth, Alex Giannini, Jan Hartley, and, Louise Plowright.
How does it compare to the Royal Festival Hall’s amazing 2002 production? that
production’s Buddy and Phyllis are hard act’s to follow, so Alexi Gianni and Louise Plowright in
particular face some tough challenges (how do measure up when compared to Henry
Goodman and Louise Gold?) This review particularly compares the two different
portrayals of Phyllis.
(Sunday 15 April 2007, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) – A
review of Ian Marshall-Fisher’s
Discovering Lost Musicals concert staging of this musical. Valerie Cutko’s
performance is better than in Silk Stockings, and she does put Live And Let
Live where that song truly belongs. Also in her second show Selina Chilton
proves to be quite a find. Christopher Dickens is also surprising. While the
presence in decent roles of three stalwarts: Stewart Permutt, Myra Sands, and,
James Vaughan ensure the show lives up to the Lost Musicals standards.
Pimlott – A Celebration (Thursday 17 May 2007, Olivier Theatre,
National Theatre) – A review of the ‘Memorial Concert’ presented at the
National Theatre celebrating the life and work of theatre director Steven
Pimlott. Including contributions from: Nicholas Hynter, Edward Kemp, Ruth
Mackenzie, Meera Syal, and, Samuel
West amongst others. The event also included a musical highlight from Maria
Friedman and Philip Quast; and some very special performances by Jeremy Sams
and Jason Carr. A unique celebration
of the life of a very individual theatre director.
The World In 80 Days (Sunday 1 July 2007, Lillian Baylis Studio
Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) – A review of Ian
Marshall-Fisher’s Discovering Lost Musicals concert staging of this seemingly
impossible to mount, very funny, un-PC musical. In a splendid costume Valerie
Cutko gives her best performance in a Lost Musical to date. Valda Avicks too
displays an unexpected vivacity. Jack Klaff takes on Orson Wells. Bryan Torfeh
engages the audience. But the star of the show is that smart Mr Peter Gale, who
really does set all the audience (male and female) agog, proving himself to be
up there with the best of the Lost Musicals Leads.
Chitty Bang Bang (Friday 6 July 2007, The Mayflower Theatre,
Southampton) – A review of the touring production. How would it compare to the
show at The Palladium three years ago? Couple Craig McLachlan play an English
inventor? Is Alvin Stardust any good on the musical stage? And in particular
how would David Henry and Louise Plowright fair tackling the roles once
inhabited by Christopher Biggins and Louise Gold? Would they be as good?
Drowsy Chaperone (24 July 2007, The Novello Theatre) – A review of the London production. A fun
score (by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison) with lots of good old-fashioned
1920’s style cheese, and proud of it. A cast which includes: Selina Chilton,
Sean Kingsley, Elaine Paige, John Partridge, and, Summer Strallen have a good
flapper style frolic, but the show suffers from its production and advertising.
Cabaret In The House: Rebecca
Thornhill & Louise Davidson (Sunday 25 November 2007, Lauderdale
House) – A review of one of Lauderdale House’s Sunday afternoon cabarets. In
fact what must surely be one of the most entertaining episodes of Cabaret In
The House. Rebecca Thornhill and Louise Davidson sing and dance their way
through an afternoon of jolly good, mostly 1940s, fun.
And The Giant Peach (Tuesday 18 December 2007, The Chichester Festival
Theatre) – A Review of Chichester Youth
Theatre’s new Christmas musical. A good opportunity to hear a nice tuneful
score, by the brilliant contemporary theatre composer Jason
Carr; once again back at The Chichester Festival Theatre.
(Sunday 13 April 2008, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) – Ian Marshall Fisher’s Discovering Lost Musicals does
it again. A excellently cast undiscovered delight. All the performers play roles
for which they are well suited. Of particular note is ever reliable Peter Gale,
and, excellent comedy singer-actor James Vaughan turning out typically
brilliant performances, in a cast headed very well by Elizabeth Counsell. A
very funny show, which deserves to be rediscovered.
review 2 (Wednesday 28 May 2008, Noel Coward Theatre) – A review of the
production with it’s second cast. Four more new puppeteers find their hands,
bringing new characterisations to the Avenue Q puppets, in this edifying and
entertaining show. Once again the four puppeteers (Daniel Boys, Mary Doherty,
Mark Goldthorpe, and, Rebecca Lock) are clearly inexperienced, nevertheless
they turn out interesting passable performances, though like their London
production predecessors lack the polish of experience. The three live actors
also bring new ideas to their characters. The new interpretations demonstrate
how the show can change and endure as a new cast attempts to make it its own.
(Monday 16 June 2008, Phoenix Theatre) – A review of the long running London production of this
show. This performance had four understudies on, including Louise Davidson
(rather an experienced West End understudy) holding the show together, along
with Amy O’Neil. So would the standards one expects in a show like this be
upheld? Is it worth a West End ticket price?
Carol (Saturday 27 December 2008, Chichester Festival Theatre) – A
review of Chichester Youth Theatre’s new Christmas musical. A splendid
sparkling score from the brilliant, British theatre
composer-lyricist-and-orchestrator Jason Carr.
(Monday 22 June 2009, Chichester Festival Theatre) – A review of John Doyle’s
very surprising Chichester revival. Michael Xavier and Leila Benn Harris basically to a
decent job as Curly and Laurey, with admirable support from Craig Els, Michael Rouse, Natalie Casey, and, Michael Matus. However, the true star of the show is
a supertrouper leading lady, Louise Plowright, shinning as brightly as she did
in Mamma Mia. It’s one of the very best things I’ve seen on the Chichester main stage.
(Sunday 5 July 2009, Lillian Baylis Studio Theatre, Sadler’s Wells) – Ian Marshall-Fisher’s Discovering Lost Musicals once
more hit the heights in spectacular style, with a very unusual left wing piece
by Kurt Weill and Paul Green. The
casting is near perfect, with old experienced hands such as James Vaughan and
Myra Sands providing steady supporting roles, and a truly amazing leading man
Max Gold whose acting ability and stage presence carries this bizarre piece of
music theatre brilliantly.
Call Me Madam
(Friday 14 August 2009, Upstairs At The Gatehouse, Highgate) – Given that the
film really is practically perfect, and fairly close to the original Broadway
production (well it starred Ethel Merman), how would this fringe production,
starring Beverley Klein fair? Would it be worth seeing? Beverely Klein might
not be an obvious choice for a Merman role, but she is a good sensible steady
singer-actress. Meanwhile Guido Schmanski and Chris Love rise to the challenge
of tackling the legacy of George Sanders
and Donald O’Connor respectively.
(Saturday 24 October 2009, RAFA Twickenham) – A review of RAFA Group’s once-a-year charity revue, which
this year, had an unusual dep pianist, a West End veteran of The Palace, The
Palladium and The Playhouse orchestra pits, Kate Young. It has to be said that
Irving Berlin’s ‘I love A Piano’ has never sounded so apt.
Christmas (Saturday 28 November 2009, The Lowry, Manchester) – Michael
Rose’s stage production of White Christmas comes to The Lowry. The cast is
headed by Adam Cooper and Aled Jones. The show contains many terrific Irving
Berlin numbers. It also has some wonderful performance surprises. Aled Jones
has to dance an amount, as does Suzanne Shaw. But the biggest surprise of them
all is mighty Louise Plowright belting in the style of Ethel Merman. She sure
doesn’t need to be told to sing out...!
She deserves to be up there with Kim Criswell and Louise Gold, as being
among the very best magnificent Mermanesque musical theatre singers.
Christmas Carol – review 2 (Tuesday 15 December 2009, Birmingham Rep) –
Last year’s Chichester Youth Theatre’s production gets a professional revival. Jason Carr’s songs are just as glorious second time
round. The standard of the cast is somewhat variable, but, besides Peter
Polycarpou, the production does include: Carl Au, Paul-Ryan
Carberry, Rosalie Craig, Hadley Fraser, Vicki Lee-Taylor, and Colin Ryan.
The Snow Queen
(Tuesday 29 December 2009, Chichester Festival Theatre) – The latest offering
from The Chichester Youth Theatre, once again the piece has been written
specifically for them, with book by Bryony Lavery, music and lyrics by Jason Carr. The result is a sort of Youth Opera,
rather than a musical. An incredibly sophisticated piece of high quality music
Lady Or The Tiger (Friday 30 January 2010, The Orange Tree) – The
Orange Tree, West London’s “Pocket National Theatre” bring back to life a piece
of their own history, and in fact a forgotten piece of West End history. Riona
O’Connor and Andrew C Wadsworth are both amazingly versatile and extremely
review 3 (Friday 12 March 2010, The Gielgud Theatre) – A review of the London production with a
third cast, actually two of the Human actors at least have been members of
earlier casts. Once again the four puppeteers (Cassidy Janson, Rachel Jerram,
Tom Parsons, and Paul Spicer are all
quite new to puppetry, but all are talented and have been well taught, though
mostly lacking the polish of experience. However, Paul
Spicer does turn out a particularly good performance.
World Goes Round (Thursday 1 April 2010, The Castle, Wellingborough) –
A Kander & Ebb revue performed by a team of five: Sophie Louise Dann,
Ashley Day, Louise Plowright, Laura Pitt Paulford,
and Dominic Tighe. All do a good job, but Louise Plowright contrives to lead
the company with a stellar performance. Revue as a genre clearly suits her
Street (Monday 23 August 2010, The Chichester Festival Theatre) – Chichester
gets a new triumvirate, this time an acting one, as Kathryn Evans, Tim Flavin,
and Louise Plowright take to the Chichester main stage in 42nd
Street, along with a youngster, Lauren Hall. A fine peice of entertainment put
together by the Leicester Haymarket team of Paul
Kerryson and his people. A very well cast show, with everyone doing a generally
(Sunday 7 November 2010, The Queen Theatre, London) – A concert-staging aiming to reunite
the company from the Donmar Warehouse production fifteen years ago. Adrian
Lester stars, while Anna Francolini delivers a sterling performance. Other
members of that Donmar company include: Paul
Bentley, Michael Simkins, Clare
Burt, and, Gareth Snook., who all perform to a high standard. There are also
quite amazing performances from replacement cast members Haydn Gwynne and Gillian
Bevan. This staging of Company is
quite an event.
Christmas Carol – review 3 (Friday 3 December 2010, The West Yorkshire
Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre) – Jason Carr’s
rather wonderful Christmas show finds its natural home in Leeds.
The best production of this marvellous piece so far. Robert Finlayson, Sarah
Moyle and Stuart Neal do pretty well (though not quite as good as their
predecessors last year). While Paul
Leonard, Beverley Klein, and Philip Whitchurch are perfect casting.
Alice Through The Looking Glass
(Sunday 12 December 2010, The Egg Studio Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath) – A very
funny little fringe theatre adaptation of a classic children’s novel based
around the game of chess. This joyful romp of a Christmas show has a versatile
cast of six, five of whom play a variety of parts. Three of them in particular:
Paul Mundell, Kate Copeland, and,
Louise Plowright stand out for turning about generally excellent all round
review 4 (Friday 4 March 2011, Richmond Theatre, Surrey) – A review of
seeing Avenue Q now touring the UK on the week it played Richmond, Surrey. As
usual the four young puppeteers (Rachel Jerram, Katharine Moraz, Adam
Pettigrew, and Chris Thatcher) are all relatively new to puppetry, though two
of them have been in the London casts, and it is good to see them stepping up
to performing major roles. Rachel Jerram seems to be a talented singer-actress.
While Chris Thatcher’s performance as Trekkie is really rather excellent, well
worth seeing, he seems to have captured something of the extrovert nature of a
certain legendary group of anarchic puppeteers.
Juliet (Thursday 17 March 2011, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre,
Stratford-upon-Avon) – Noma Dumezweni, Forbes Mason, Jonjo O’Neill, and. Sam
Troughton all contribute strong performances, but it is Mariah Gale’s Juliet
that carries this production directed by
Rupert Gould, making it a very special and memorable part of redeveloped The
Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s reopening season.
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