West End

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. 

Advertisements

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels | Digital Press Night

On Wednesday evening I, amongst several other #LDNtheatrebloggers attended the ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ Digital Press Night at the Savoy Theatre. Hosted by the wonderful Richard Le Cocq, the evening gave bloggers and press the opportunity to not only review the show, but to learn a dirty, rotten dance routine on the Savoy stage with Associate Choreographer Darren Carnell AND the opportunity to ‘meet and greet’ the cast post-performance. Some might say we were spoiled ROTTEN.

Although I had good intentions, I found myself partnerless during the dance rehearsal and decided to turn my attention to capturing the other #LDNtheatrebloggers in action. Whilst some mastered rolling Robert Lindsay’s very own hat from their head to their toes, others were being thrown about by the strapping gents amongst us in an ‘Oklahoma?’ fashion (even the wonderful West End Wilma, who was a fantastic sport and managed to nab herself the dishiest dance partner available!). Witness Wilma and the other bloggers in action by watching my YouTube video below:

After a truly fantastic show, the meet and greet commenced. I managed to speak to Ian Knauer and congratulate him on a wonderful West End LIVE performance over the weekend (Ian filled in for Robert Lindsay as Lawrence on Saturday) and even have a chat and a photograph with Robert Lindsay himself!

Myself and Robert Lindsay

I also got to meet Lizzy Connolly who plays Jolene in the show. Jolene is my favourite character and I haven’t been able to get ‘Oklahoma?’ out of my head since watching Lizzy perform it on Wednesday. She only confirmed what I could already tell from watching her in the role; she is having the best time as Jolene and absolutely loves her part in the show!

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 22.07.54

My full review of the show can be found here .

Jess

Follow ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’:

Twitter: @ScoundrelsUK

Facebook : Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Photo Credit: Rebecca Felgate of Official Theatre

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Image

Based on the classic 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ has been revived by director Jerry Mitchell to all it’s former glory and much, much more. Staying true to the original storyline, the audience join Lawrence (Robert Lindsay) and Freddy (Rufus Hound) on their journey to con-artist domination, competing against one another for Miss Christine Colgate’s (Katherine Kingsley) fortune; both in her purse and her pants. Set in the French Riviera for the most part, the musical emits the perfect combination of charm, cheek and side-splitting humour, all undoubtedly owed to the humorous script and genius songbook created by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbeck respectively; a truly entertaining theatre experience and one that reflects the brilliance of what London’s West End is capable of amidst untimely show closures and disarray elsewhere in the industry.

IMG_7739

Starring Robert Lindsay (Lawrence), Rufus Hound (Freddy), Samantha Bond (Muriel) and Katherine Kingsley (Christine), there is certainly nothing dirty nor rotten about ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ casting. Where Lindsay delivers the charm and charisma notable of a ‘scoundrel’, Hound simply excels in providing the ‘slapstick’ comedy and consistent humour that the show bases itself on; together, the pair are unstoppable. Whilst the duo are comedically exceptional, the star of Act 1 is unarguably Lizzy Connolly in the role of Jolene Oakes (a blonde and boisterous Oklahoman with an inherited fortune). Her performance of ‘Oklahoma?’ catalyses audience hysteria and together with Lindsay and Hound the trio continue to leave viewers roaring with laughter throughout musical number ‘All About Ruprecht’. Connolly’s vocals were only to be matched by Katherine Kingsley (Christine), who steals the show completely with her stunning voice and outstanding performance. The development of Christine’s character in Act 2 is, perhaps, the best moment of the entire production and Kingsley shines in all aspects of her diverse role. Of all the brilliant musical numbers this show has to offer, none project themselves quite as uniquely as ‘Love is my Legs’ (performed by Hound and Kingsley) and even the toughest of audiences would find it a challenge in keeping a straight face from this number on. 

IMG_7769

Refreshingly, the musical is not centered around romance although it does contain some endearing moments. Samantha Bond and John Marquez as Muriel (Lawrence’s latest scam victim) and Andre (his loveable French sidekick) provide the perfect touch of romance and passion amidst the comedy and laughter. Their performance of ‘Like Zis, Like Zat’ is both sweet and funny and only adds to, rather than hinders, the comical backdrop built up by the other characters. Marquez, in particular, is perfect in his depiction of his French counterpart and maintains the accent wonderfully throughout his musical numbers.

image

Lavish in both costumery and set design (Peter McKintosh), the show leaves little to the imagination and spares the audience of any subtlety. Choreographically (Mitchell), especially during ensemble numbers such as ‘Great Big Stuff’ and ‘The More We Dance’ routines only match the slick and polished look and feel of this dapper production. Whilst the audience are thoroughly entertained throughout, none are enjoying themselves more than the cast onstage. Lindsay and Hound engage with the audience and play on personal ‘slip-ups’ throughout; only adding to the humour and brilliance of the production. 

With West End ticket prices on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly more important to feel as though you’ve had your ‘money’s worth’ out of a show. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is worth every hard-earned penny paid towards a ticket and, furthermore, will leave you planning a return visit. Get down to the Savoy Theatre and see for yourself! 

Jess x

Photos are copyright of Via Jess.