Legally Blonde is one of a few productions I didn’t know had yet made its way over to the stage. Having loved the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon I was so looking forward to seeing how this would be translated onto the stage.
Starring Lucie Jones as Elle Woods; the Delta Nu sorority girl whose mission is to make it to Harvard and win back her love, Warner Huntington lll after being dumped for being “too blonde”.
The stage production stays true to the cult movie and the musical numbers were so well written in my opinion with big songs such as Oh My God You Guys which opened the show and So Much Better. It seems so much and such accurate details were squeezed into the production to tell the full story we’ve seen on screen from Elle struggling to fit into the new crowd at Harvard, to fitness guru Brooke performing a very impressive skipping routine (and still singing right on key).
Lucie Jones was so convincing as Malibu-born Elle that I only realised who she in fact was when I read the programme at the interval.
I loved this production and would definitely see it again as it continues its tour across the UK.
For me, the sign of a good night at the theatre is if you’re already playing the accompanying soundtrack in your car on the way home. Well this is exactly what happened last night after we saw Jersey Boys at the Regent Theatre.
My knowledge of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was limited to recognising Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and of course that uniquely pitched voice of Frankie Valli himself so seeing this stage production was very much a pleasant surprise for me as not only does it tell the tale of the forming of the band that would be the American equivalent to The Beatles from our side of the pond but also to learn just how many songs they had penned and how many I was able to sing along to never realising that I’d grown with many of these songs and never questioned who sang them.
Like any good story where a bunch of guys get lucky and make the big time, it always comes with its ups and downs and The Four Seasons went on that very same journey with their fair share of competitiveness and money problems along the way.
One of the highlights of the production for me was as we were approaching the interval and the boys first donned those famous red jackets and performed Sherry. You couldn’t;t help but have a big grin on your face as the whole audience was waiting for that moment; the grand reveal of what, after much trial and tribulation and swapping out of band members, The Four Seasons appeared on stage as the completed quartet and you could imagine what it would have felt like to be seeing the boys up there on stage for the first time all those years ago.
Michael Watson playing Frankie Valli was especially impressive to watch (and hear) as he effortlessly hit those high notes we were all waiting for and Simon Bailey as the founding band member and somewhat of a rogue, Tommy De Vito really captured the audiences attention throughout and really steered the performance on stage and interacted with the audience just enough to enjoy it but not distract from the performance.
If I were to say only one thing about the stage production of Grease(yes, I’m slightly jumping the gun here rounding up my thoughts in the first sentence of my review) it would be to say that you’d have to have seen the film first to really appreciate the show; but then who hasn’t seen Grease? It’s funny then that the iconic 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John isn’t where it all began for Danny and Sandy, but was a theatre production for six years before Hollywood got its hand on the story of an all-American high school.
My reasoning for saying that you’d have to have seen the film first to get the most from the stage production is because Danny is so dismissive of Sandy (Danielle Hope) on stage that’s it’s difficult to understand why this young girl would so hung up on him. Their relationship didn’t convey very well on the stage and I found myself having to remind myself that this was THE Danny & Sandy.
Tom Parker played the role of Danny and it’s no doubt that John Travolta left some very big shoes to fill and I’m afraid to say that, for me, he didn’t quite fit the bill or have that same presence and demeanor you expect from dreamy Danny Zuko.
The stage production featured all the big numbers and the crowd was raring to go and sing-along to Grease is the Word, We Go Together and Hopelessly Devoted To You among new music such as Those Magic Changes, performed by one of the standout actors in my opinion, Ryan Heenan, which was a welcome edition to the stage production and added something new and fun to what was mostly a scene-by-scene follow on to the film.
One of the big moments from the film translated incredibly well and delivered all the glitz and razzmatazz you want on the stage; Beauty School Dropout with Teen Angel (George Olney) was brilliant and that alone warranted an encore.
The famous Greased Lightning was another all-singing-all-dancing moment that was ridiculously fun to clap along to but I do think their choice to break the fourth wall slightly by using microphones slightly dampened it for me at least because you lose the magic from the film where it’s a group of high school seniors envisioning doing up a car and getting carried and excited in their own minds of what they can transform this beat up old motor into and it is so obviously a performance. An odd observation to make perhaps, but I suppose I refer the story to unfold on the stage in front of me as opposed to being performed to.
Grease is on at The Regent Theatre until Saturday 27th May. To book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com or call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
Considering it wasn’t opening night, there was still that familiar buzz in the air as we took our seats to see the production of Sister Act that’s currently touring the UK and is taking up residence at The Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent.
X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke played the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier, the wannabe stage singer who runs into trouble through mingling in the nightclub scene and being on the arm of a mobster boyfriend.
Seeking refuge, this larger (and louder) than life character hides away in the least suspecting environment – a convent. Here she inspires her fellow ‘sisters’ with her refreshing outlook on life and frustrates Mother Superior with their wildly different attitudes but one thing they can agree on is the power of music.
In the convent Deloris finds her purpose and transforms a few mumbling nuns into a fabulous choir.
The musical takes influence from the Whoopi Goldberg film but has its own soundtrack with original songs and music. Alexandra’s powerful voice was shown off time and time again with plenty of 70’s disco-inspired songs.
Sister Act is playing at The Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday 13th May 2017.
This season, The Regent Theatre is playing host to several big productions and for me, last night’s opening night of Ghost really kicked things off with a bang. The production follows the story from the 1990 film that features the late Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as the young couple, having only recently moved in together and looking forward to their next chapter in life in the “up and coming” district of Brooklyn who are torn apart when Sam is shot dead in a seemingly senseless street robbery gone wrong and Molly is left alone and heartbroken.
Sam doesn’t “cross over” to the other side and is left in limbo as a ghost who can see and hear everything Molly and his friends around her are doing and feeling and is tormented with his lack of ability to communicate to Molly that he is still there, and he knows she is in danger.
In an act of desperation he seeks out Oda May Brown, the local physic who has long claimed and cashed in on her “gift” and is now for the first time experiencing real physic abilities much to her inconvenience.
Lauren Drew, in the lead role of Molly Jenson, and Andy Moss as Sam really complemented one another on stage and the original music for the production naturally built upon the film so many of us have come to love so it was no mean feat to go up against Patrick Swayze.
Jacqui Dubois, cast as Oda May Brown and stepping into Whoopi Goldberg’s shoes for the role certainly gave some tough competition for Whoopi as her performance was magnificent and her character was extremely likeable and had the audience roaring.
Evita, after debuting on London’s West End in that late 70’s, has been playing and touring for almost forty years so I was as keen as ever to see the production and add this musical number to my theatre repertoire.
The production tells the inspirational story of Eva Perón, a young Argentine woman who established for herself a life beyond even her wildest imaginations from being the actress who mixes with elite crowds to the wife of the Argentine president Juan Perón. The young Eva is feisty and even then we see her ruthless ambition as she sets her sights on a bigger and better life in “Buenos Aires” .
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice the musical is performed almost entirely by song as the actors delivered their lines in a melody. Having seen other productions which were performed in this nature and having found them quite labouring to follow at times I can confidently say that this wasn’t the case for Evita. The whole performance the audience was enraptured in the tale of Eva and following her rise to power and never did the music take away substance to the story (as at parts it is important to follow to understand the political climate of Argentina at that time) but enhanced the performed and the atmosphere on stage. Of course “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” cropped up in the performance every now and then, as if to tease us, ready for the grand moment when the wonderful Emma Hatton sang it in full exquisitely.
The moment in the show that the audience fell silent was ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ and I could (and have been) listen to that song over and over again. This is the moment when a young mistress of Perón’s is told to leave once Eva moves in to his home and makes it her own. This young woman could have so easily has been Eva if her sheer grit and determination didn’t pay off.
Gian Marco Schiarettian as Che narrates the events from the early days of a young Eva running in the social circles, to becoming a charitable and influential figure in Argentina to her untimely death at the age of 33.
What would Christmas be without a trip to panto? And what would a Stokie Christmas panto be without Jonny Wilkes and Christian Patterson? It’s a tradition for hundreds of families and this particular formula has become somewhat of an institution for Stoke-on-Trent and the Regent Theatre. This year it was Cinderella, a tale we all know and as usual, Christian (who stars in and writes the script) put his usual comical spin on it.
The set was as magical as ever but with that special Christmas spirit sparkle. Christian Patterson and Simon Nehan made the most hilarious duo as the Ugly Sisters, Wilkes starred as Buttons and was a charming as ever, Finley Guy made the perfect Cinderella with a gorgeous singing voice and my favourite discovery was Ian Stroughair who played the part of Dandini; Prince Charming’s righthand man. Stroughhair has a phenomenal singing voice and I would love to see him in other productions as he could easily carry a lead role in my opinion.
Mine, and from the chatter floating around at the interval, everyone’s favourite part of the performance was Cinderella’s dress change. It was beautiful and magical – I remarked to my parents who I brought along with me that I wish I could have re-winded it to watch it unfold again. The whole scene was immaculately orchestrated with the horse and carriage and… well I don’t want to spoil it for you because you MUST go and see this year’s performance.
The fact that the same crowds return year upon year to see the Christmas panto along with a new flock of families is testament to Wilkes, Patterson and everyone at the Regent Theatre. Each year they deliver on bringing bucket loads of festive cheer (and chuckles – audience and cast alike I might add) and you come to expect their playful sense of humour – and even get to know some of their gags – but it never feels done and outdated and Christian Patterson shows his attention to detail with timely references… Hello mannequin challenge! You just know that the cast are having just as good a time as the audience.
The 12 Days of Panto had the whole audience up and the traditional post-performance audience interaction where children are invited up on stage and we all have a good sing-song is just what Christmas is all about. Good festive cheer, kindness and bringing friends, families and neighbours (even in the next seat along) together.
Cinderella is playing at The Regent Theatre until January 8th. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
While I’ve previously made it no secret of my slightly precarious attitude to seeing some of my favourite films adapted for the stage (The Lion King, Dirty Dancing, Billy Elliot) for risk of seeing something I love in an unfamiliar light, I have an altogether different stance on seeing productions I know little or nothing of and I welcome these invites to discover new shows, characters and who knows, even new favourites to add to my theatrical repertoire. Continue reading “The Commitments”→
Dirty Dancing is one of those films that everybody has seen, at least a dozen times. And if you haven’t, well, just HOW? It’s a firm favourite of mine because it has all the elements you want in any sort of entertainment; it’s fun, it’s sexy and it’s so easy to get swept up into. Seeing Dirty Dancing on the stage amplified these factors one hundred times over.