Views from the Stalls and Views from the Sofa - My reviews and thoughts on all things theatre and television. Follow me on Twitter @LikeTheMonth_

Sunday, 2 December 2012

'Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds' - Review - Liverpool Echo Arena

1st December 2012 

Jeff Wayne brought the updated version of his 1978 classic album ‘The War of the Worlds’ to life in Liverpool’s Echo Arena last night, in a tour dubbed ‘The New Generation’.  Based on the 1898 novel of the same name by HG Wells, it tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth through the eyes of a journalist desperate to be reunited with his wife.  I am very much part of this ‘new’ generation myself, having never listened to the original album all the way through, though being aware of the main theme and Richard Burton’s iconic narration.  As a musical theatre fan my interest was piqued by the involvement of West End star Kerry Ellis and so I went along to the Echo not quite sure of what to expect. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

42nd Street - Liverpool Empire Theatre - Review

Tuesday 13th November 2012 

 '42nd Street' is a musical that seems to have been around forever despite only making its way to the stage in 1978.  Upon making my own way to the Empire Theatre in Liverpool to see this latest touring production, I realised I actually knew very little about it.  The only expectation I had was that it would be full of extravagant dance routines and the show certainly delivered on that score. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sister Act - Review - Liverpool Empire Theatre

Liverpool Empire Theatre - 22nd May 2012

Deloris Van Cartier is back! The stage adaptation of the 1992 movie ‘Sister Act’ premiered at the London Palladium in 2009, later transferred to Broadway and has now made its way to Liverpool in the middle of a UK tour. A last minute ticket booth purchase saw me catch the show in the West End in 2010 and we found it one of the most enjoyable new musicals of recent years. Looking forward to seeing it again, I made my way to the opening night at Liverpool Empire to see if the show is as much fun now as it was then. The answer?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 7 - Making History - Review

What’s the Story?

In this years penultimate instalment of Being Human, we are taken through the past, present and future of our trio with surprising results. Through flashbacks to the 1950s we learn more about Hal and Cutler while Tom grows closer to Cutler in the present and Annie crosses over once again and sees what the future has in store. And it’s not jetpacks.

What’s the Verdict?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 6 - Puppy Love

What’s the Story?

Honolulu Heights has another new visitor this week in the form of young werewolf Allison (Ellie Kendrick) who has been trying to track Tom down after watching a certain viral Youtube video… With Tom instantly smitten their relationship blossoms while Hal’s attempts to ‘court’ Scottish holidaymaker Alex (Kate Bracken) go less smoothly. Meanwhile, alone at the B&B Annie’s actions prove fatal, literally, for one Barry resident.

What’s the Verdict?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 5 - Hold The Front Page - Review

What's the Story?
47 year old teenage vampire Adam (Craig Roberts) returns to Honolulu Heights, seeking sanctuary from the media after running away with girls school headmistress, Yvonne Bradshaw (Selina Griffiths). Of course, things have changed somewhat in his absence and it soon becomes apparent that there may be more to Yvonne than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Cutler is stepping up his plan to 'out' the werewolves.

What's the Verdict?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 4 - A Spectre Calls - Review

What’s the Story?

James Lance guest stars as seventies ghost Alfie Kirby, who turns up at Honolulu Heights claiming to have been sent by Nina to help look after Eve. Lest we forget the esteemed words of ‘The Real Hustle’ however, ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!’.

What’s the Verdict?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 3 - The Graveyard Shift - Review

What’s the Story?

With baby Eve to feed, Tom and Annie ask a reluctant Hal to get a job. Working alongside Tom at the ‘Café on the Corner’, the episode explores Tom and Hal’s burgeoning friendship. Meanwhile, still unsure of how much she can really trust her new flatmates, Annie asks Regus to help her protect Eve.

What’s the Verdict?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 2 - Being Human 1955 - Review

What’s the Story? 

 In the second episode of the series, Hal, Leo and Pearl journey to Honolulu Heights in the hope that baby Eve will be able to ‘save’ Leo. Tom and Annie immediately clash with the newcomers but Leo’s dying wishes enable them to put their differences aside.

What’s the Verdict?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Being Human - Series 4 Episode 1 - Eve of the War - Review

What’s the Story?

It is all change at Honolulu Heights with new arrivals, tragic departures and at the centre, an innocent newborn baby. To say any more would be to spoil some truly shocking moments, but suffice to say, Being Human roars back onto our screens with an enormously ambitious series opener more akin to a finale and possibly the darkest hour in the show so far.

Read my full thoughts after the jump - ENORMOUS SPOILERS FOLLOW!

What’s the Verdict?  

Monday, 9 January 2012

2011 - My Year In Theatre

Having skimmed through my diary I apparently managed to see 32 shows in 2011 and I’m quite impressed with that considering my theatregoing year did not really kick off until April.  One thing I will not  be doing, is counting up the cost of all those tickets (*shudders*) but I thought it would be good to reflect back on the shows that really stood out for me, those that will stay with me in years to come.
I saw some excellent one-off concerts by performers whose work in musical theatre I really enjoy and it was fantastic to see artists such as Kerry Ellis and Ramin Karimloo headlining their own shows to packed audiences. The 6th July 2011 also marks the date I saw the one and Liza Minnelli at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow.  Seeing one of the true theatrical legends live in the flesh was quite magical for me and it was a very special occasion that I know I will remember forever.
Living in the North-West I am unable to get down to London as often as I would like, and sometimes I regret missing those shows that have only short-lived stints in the West End. I tried to rectify that in 2011, seeing shows that I knew would only be there for a limited time.  I am so pleased I managed to get to Betty Blue Eyes before its sad early closure. I wrote a review here at the time about how much I loved the show and found it to be funny, charming and full of heart.  I was sad to see such a show fail to become a commercial success in the West End but I still firmly believe that it was a wonderful musical and songs such as ‘Nobody’, ‘Another Little Victory’ and ‘Lionheart’ could well become all time favourites of mine.  
I also returned to see End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios for a second time, after an initial visit in December 2010 left me utterly awestruck.  Although it is virtually impossible to capture quite the same level of magic on a second viewing as the first, Tracie Bennett’s performance as Judy Garland remained absolutely incredible and undoubtedly one of the finest individual stage performances I’ve ever seen. With a fantastic performance from Hilton McRae as Garland’s pianist, ‘End of the Rainbow’ is another show that will stay with me for a very long time. 
Another jaunt to London saw me catch Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show at the Menier Chocolate Factory, featuring another quite extraordinary performance, this time from Michael Jibson as Addison Mizner, who should surely be in the mix when award season comes around.   Jibson was frequently heartbreaking as the sweet-natured, hard working Addison, the polar opposite to his charming but reckless brother Wilson (in another excellent performance from David Bedella). The show itself was both funny and moving in typical Sondheim fashion and I even managed to pocket myself quite a substantial sum of money as a memento of the occasion!
In regional theatre, three shows stand out for me.  The first a show that was extremely short-lived and I feel privileged to have managed to catch it.  The show in question is That Day We Sang, Victoria Wood’s ‘play-with-songs’ for the Manchester International Festival, based around the Manchester Schools Children’ s Choir 1929 record ‘Nymphs & Shepherds’.  It was full of traditional Wood wit and was at times both hilarious and heartbreaking.  I have not been able to find any of the songs again, but an ode to the Berni Inn (‘Black Forest Gateaux = cake in drag’) has stayed with me, as has a powerhouse solo performance from the always fabulous Jenna Russell bemoaning her name (‘Enid’) which was quite the masterclass in comic timing. With a touching performance from Vincent Franklin as Russell’s love interest ‘Tubby’ Baker and Raif Clarke as the ‘young Tubby’, backed by a new group of children and complete with an onstage appearance by Wood herself at the curtain call; I left the Manchester Opera House thinking that this show was everything that theatre should be. 
In November came my trip to the Liverpool Playhouse to see the premiere of Graham Linehan’s new adaptation of Ealing comedy The Ladykillers, before it’s transfer to the West End.  I should confess I haven’t seen the original film upon which it is based, but I found this stage adaptation genuinely fantastic from the opening mobile phone announcement to the last second (which I’m not giving away!).  The cast were perfect;  Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller, James Fleet, Marcia Warren, Clive Rowe, Stephen Wight all deserve an individual mention. The first act is pure farce and though it turns into more of a black comedy as the ‘atmosphere gets decidedly morbid’ in Act Two, every movement is perfectly choreographed and the script is so sharp and well constructed that every joke has a pay off.  While trying not to give anything away, the ‘heist’ itself is ingenious and there are some genuinely hilarious moments of visual comedy (opening the cupboard. That’s all I’ll say!).   All that and I haven’t even mentioned the extraordinary set design yet. It may seem clichéd to say that the set was like an extra character, but it is entirely true in The Ladykillers.  It is possibly the best set I have ever seen and it is a good job the performances are so strong otherwise I would barely have been able to take my eyes off it!
My final theatre trip in 2011 rounded the year off perfectly; Company at the Sheffield Crucible. I have loved the music for a long time but had never seen the show live before; although I am sure I will see it again at some point in my lifetime, I find it hard to imagine another production bettering this one.  Daniel Evans’ central performance was captivating although the show was almost stolen by Samantha Spiro’s Amy in ‘Getting Married Today’.  Each member of the company (no pun intended) was excellent, the set transported you to 1970s New York and every aspect of the show seemed to fit together perfectly.  The anthemic ‘Being Alive’ has been one of my favourite songs for some time, but this marked the first occasion I had ever heard it performed live and for me it was a genuinely thrilling moment.  It may be 40 years old, but this production showed that Company is as relevant as ever and stands up as a truly great piece of musical theatre.  (In a side note unrelated to the show itself, seeing Company on your own is a decidedly…  odd  …experience!) 
So with that, my theatregoing of 2011 came to a close. These were just a few of my highlights and I ended up talking about them far more than I intended.  I can’t help noticing that the shows that have stayed with me the most are the ones where tears have been shed; either with laughter, sadness or both, all six of the shows reduced me to tears at some point.  Which only leaves me to say that I suppose I should hope for more tears in 2012?