Author: jessicameaden

My Night With Reg

2015/01/img_0219.jpg
My Night With Reg – originally written by Kevin Eylot and revived/directed now by Robert Hastie – features a six-man cast over three acts of hard-hitting, yet bittersweet, drama. Set in the 1980s, during a time where AIDS and HIV were a particularly prominent and life-threatening issue for the gay community, the play follows the friendship of Guy (Jonathon Broadbent), John (Julian Ovenden) and Daniel (Geoffrey Streatfeild): three gay men all entwined and emotionally connected to one another differently, yet all experiencing unique and heartbreaking love triangles with the illusive (and never seen on stage) Reg. It recently transferred to the Apollo Theatre following the success of its sold-out run at the Donmar Warehouse.

Although the story is centred predominantly around the complicated friendships of Guy, John and Daniel, the lighthearted element of this uncompromising, yet hilarious, play comes from unlikely lovers Benny and Bernie (Matt Bardock & Richard Cant) and young bartender-come-painter/decorator Eric (Lewis Reeves). Where the five older men share their life experiences of heartbreak, infidelity and holding secrets, Eric in particular brings an innocence and distraction to the group in both his youth and naivety.

In just under two hours, My Night With Reg breaks modern-day taboo and addresses the devastating impacts and life-changing ways that AIDS and HIV have effected – and still do affect – both the sufferers and those closest to them. The play is an entertaining and compelling watch, but for those with a low attention span and poor blood circulation the absence of an interval could be a little problematic.

Hilariously enough, whilst TfL have been frantically censoring the play’s ‘cheeky’ underground poster campaign, the audiences of the Apollo have been treated to a little more than a bum cheek or two each night, as Julian Ovenden and Lewis Reeves bravely don their birthday suits for a small segment of Act 3.

2015/01/img_0217-0.jpg

Bare bottoms aside, seeing My Night With Reg is a worthy way to spend a night at the theatre – even as you’re nursing two dead legs shuffling out onto Shafetsbury Ave afterwards!

Jess

Another great night with the #LDNTheatreBloggers . Thanks Official Theatre and SeatPlan.

Advertisements

Forbidden Broadway

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 19.22.54

Forbidden Broadway is an off-Broadway, musical-theatre parody written by Gerard Alessandrini that has spawned 25 show editions and 12 cast albums since its first New York opening some thirty years ago. Best described as a ‘musical within a musical’, this show pulls together and makes fun of some of the most notorious scenes and show tunes from our beloved and popular stage shows. Despite huge success at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this year, it seemed brave that this show – with a very ‘niche’ market of die-hard musical-theatre fans – would open for a limited run in the heart of London’s West End. Pessimism aside, it has been a rare opportunity for the true musical theatre-loving community to get together, joke, mock and laugh at our passion and trade – the theatre – and do that, it certainly has.

Not one musical slips through the net to escape Forbidden Broadway’s sarcasm and wit. From a side-splitting take on Les Mis’ famous revolving set, to a hilarious sketch devoted to Charlie and the ‘technically-challenged’ Chocolate factory, the cast and creatives behind this show have let no show, nor stage celebrity, go unnoticed. Even Liza Minelli, Adele Dazeem  Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth are thrown into the spotlight, albeit a little differently than usual.

Forbidden Broadway performed at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Whilst the four-man-cast are, together, simply brilliant, this show is very much dominated by two sublime leading ladies: Christina Bianco and Anna-Jane Casey. Where Damian Humbley and Ben Lewis both give an enchanting performance, Bianco and Casey blow the roof off of the Vaudeville Theatre with their jaw-dropping vocals. Bianco, in particular, wows with her solo performances and vivacious stage presence. Making her West End debut in Forbidden Broadway, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she was snapped up for a new role on a West End stage in the near future.

Forbidden Broadway performed at the Menier Chocolate Factory

For ‘stagey’ souls, like myself, this musical is an absolute must-see, providing just-over 2 hours of theatrical hysteria. But, as predicted prior to watching Forbidden Broadway, this show would be completely lost on people with a restricted or limited knowledge of the musical-theatre world (which was probably the case for the foreign couple sat beside me who walked out just 20 minutes in to Act 1, never to return). #LDNTheatreBloggers, critics and stagey friends have absolutely loved the show – and I stand beside them. Get yourself a ticket before it closes this month!

Jess x

Many thanks to Official Theatre for providing me with a ticket to see the show. Go follow them on Twitter for regular stagey updates and brilliant interviews with West End stars. 

Wicked

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 21.44.26

The prequel to well-known and much-loved classic ‘The Wizard of Oz’ has been a firm resident of London’s West End since September 2006, when it flew across the pond following incredible success on Broadway. Having played to packed audiences night after night at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon – and with a powerful score, dazzling set and magical script, it’s easy to see why.

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, ‘Wicked’ tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz and the wonderful Wizard himself – before Dorothy, her flying house and ruby red slippers. Making clever reference to old favourites, including the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, audiences are taken back to the adolescent years of G(a)linda the Good Witch and Elphaba the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’, when they were once the best of friends whilst studying at Shiz University. Coupled with a complicated love triangle, the witches are eventually torn apart by a difference in personal motives. Where one witch craves power and popularity, the other simply wishes to make a difference in a deteriorating Oz – but ‘which witch is which’ will come as a refreshing shock to those who know the classic Ozian tale.

Kerry Ellis’ surprise return to the musical, following Willemijn Verkaik’s untimely departure earlier this year, has been at the centre of West End excitement since it was announced back in July. Ellis is the original British Elphaba and her previous experience in the role and obvious connection with her green counterpart is clearly reflected from the outset in her portrayal of the misunderstood character. Like Elphaba’s strengthening personality throughout the story, she performs the part with a delicacy that gradually cresecendos into some great vocal talent. By ‘No Good Deed’, her vocal range is at its finest, though the build-up to this moment leaves a lot to be desired. Her performance is effortless, but seems to lack passion.

IMG_7406IMG_7418 

However, it’s not all about Ellis. Flying in by bubble, Savannah Stevenson is a true diamond (or should one say emerald..) in the role of ‘good’ witch G(a)linda. Stevenson’s compatibility with her character is unrivalled by anyone else performing on stage, delivering witty one-liners and the show’s more comedic elements with comfortable expertise. It is clear from the offset that she loves to perform this role and she thrives as a performer because of it.

Wicked isn’t just a good musical, it’s a great one – like a fine elixir, it’s just getting better and better with age. The show is colourful, energetic and truly entertaining throughout. Whilst little ones will appreciate the magic of it all, adults will relate to the messages behind the story: namely, the importance of friendship and for standing up for what you believe in. Hop down the Yellow Brick Road (otherwise known as the Circle Line) and ‘discoverate’ this show for yourself – make your friends ‘hideoutiously’ green with jealously!

Jess

Find out more about Wicked and buy tickets for the show with Theatre Breaks.  

Photographs under the copyright of ViaJess. Previous Elphaba, Willemijn Verkaik, is featured.