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Giggin4Good, Actor’s Church

6 Feb

After last year’s very successful Giggin4Good summer showcase, the second Giggin4Good showcase took place on Sunday in the Actor’s Church in Covent Garden, again with a cast of both established and up-and-coming performers. I think the Actor’s Church is the perfect location for concerts and those of us who braved the weather were in for a wonderful evening, all in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Ziggie Sky Ward set the bar very high with her beautiful rendition of Lance Horne’s “Last Day on Earth”. David Brewis’ “Till I Hear You Sing” from Love Never Dies was very impressive and I loved his duet with Joseph Connor (“For Good” from Wicked). Joseph also sang “If I Didn’t Believe in You” from The Last Five Years.

Shaun McCourt

One of the highlights of the evening for me was Shaun McCourt, who sang “Last One Picked” from the musical Whoop-Dee-Do! and “Younger Than Springtime” from South Pacific. In the first song he got to show his excellent comic timing, while the second song highlighted his beautiful voice. He is currently understudying the part of Joseph in the UK tour and I would love to see him play it. A name to remember!

Another highlight was, of course, Rebecca Caine. Her “Somebody, Somewhere” from Happy Fella was simply stunning, as was her Follies duet with Rosie Clarkson. Their voices sounded sublime together.

There were some other great duets from Victoria Hamilton Barritt & Nathan Amzi and Twinnielee Moore & Max Milner. Victoria Hamilton Barritt also sang an amazing “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. I loved Alexia Khadime‘s “Easy as Life” from Aida, it just suited her voice perfectly. Annabel Lloyd‘s Neverland (Scott Alan) was just lovely and so was Rosa O’Reilly‘s “Astonishing” from Little Women.

Sabrina Aloueche

Ross Hunter has an incredible voice and his “Memphis Lives in Me” was superb, as was his duet with Sabrina Aloueche (“High Enough”/Rock of Ages), who also sang a breath-taking “The Honour of His Name”. His fellow Legally Blonde cast member Lincoln Stone sang a wonderful “Honesty”, but his “Anthem” from Chess was even better and a wonderful way to finish the evening.

There were also a couple of songs from two new musicals: My Land’s Shore, written Robert Gould and Christopher Orton, and Roundabout, written by Joe Sterling and Robert Gould.

The music from My Land’s Shore completely blew me away. I especially loved “I Know I Love Him”, which was sung by Kelly-Anne Gower, Sarah Lark and Laura Selwood and of course the rousing “My Land’s Shore/Finale” sung by Jonathan Williams and Kelly-Anne Gower, Sarah Lark, Laura Selwood, Christopher Orton, Gareth Richards, Alexis James and Joe Sterling. The cast recording has just been released and I’d urge you all to buy it. It’s a truly exciting new musical with a compelling story. More info can be found HERE.

The two songs from Roundabout, “Those Eyes”, which was sung by Joe Sterling, and “What We Are Here For”, which was sung by Christopher Orton were lovely too and I can’t wait to hear more about it.

I enjoyed Giggin4Good very much, so a big thank you needs to go to the organisers who put on such a superb concert and I hope they managed to raise a lot of money for GOSH. I’m already looking forward to the next one (whenever that may be).

An Evening with Chris Passey and Friends, Leicester Square Theatre

24 Jan

An Evening with Chris Passey and Friendswas presented by Carrie James Productions and Big World Theatre Company in aid of Cancer Research UK and the MS Society.

Chris Passey released his debut album “Self Taught, Still Learning” (Review) late last year and this was a great showcase of his music. He was joined by some very talented performers as well as the students of the Musical Theatre Academy.

There were no highlights for me, simply because I thought each and every performance was outstanding, so I decided to just go through the whole set list:

Sin That I Am In – Joseph Connor & Nathan Taylor. What a great way to start the evening. Both Joseph Connor and Nathan Taylor did a great job.

Ziggie Sky Ward

Getting Married Today – Ziggie Sky Ward. I know I’ve said it before, but with this performance Ziggie showed again just how talented she is. Amazing.

How Would They Feel – Chris Passey. My favourite song from the album, it sounds even better live.

Love Will Find a Way – Nadine Cox. Nadine Cox is simply phenomenal. Loved her performance, as well as the two Musical Theatre Academy students who supported her.

Lifeline – Amy Carroll. It’s such a beautiful song and Amy’s performance was very moving.

Stevie Webb

Three Tiny Words – Allyson Ava Brown. Another great performance, Allyson has a wonderful voice.

Room For Me – Stevie Webb. Great song and great performance by Stevie and the students of the MTA. It sounded amazing with the choir.

One Day More – Chris Passey. A lovely song by Georgia Stitt (aka Jason Robert Brown’s wife) and performance by Chris.

Kiss the Air – Joseph Connor. Joseph sounded great singing this Scott Alan song.

David Brewis

In My Arms – David Brewis. I’d never seen David in anything else before, but he completely blew me away with his performance. Another incredibly talented young performer to watch out for and what a way to finish the first half!

You Were Mine – Zoe Littleton, CiCi Howells, Kieran Kuypers & Anthony Matteo. The MTA has incredibly talented students! Great performance by all four of them.

If They Only Knew – Matthew Barrow. I like this song very much anyway, but Matthew’s performance took the song to a whole new level.

Matthew Barrow

Proud of Your Boy – Chris Passey. A lovely song from Disney’s Aladdin

Superman – Shona White. Great performance from Shona and the two supporting students from the MTA.

‘Till I Hear You Sing – David Brewis. I didn’t like Love Never Dies when I saw it, but there are undoubtedly some great songs in it. This one works so well out of context of the show and David’s performance was amazing.

Taylor the Latte Boy’s Response – Nathan Taylor. I love this song and Nathan’s comic timing was spot on.

Nadine Cox

Your Loving Arms – Stevie Webb. Chris Passey wrote this song especially for him. It’s a stunning ballad and Stevie was superb as always.

Being Alive – Danny Lane. I saw Danny sing this song at A Night For Jennifer and hearing him again just confirmed what an amazing voice he has.

Worthy – Carl Au.I loved his rendition of this stunning ballad, very emotional.

Take Me With You – Nadine Cox & Chris Passey. Great duet of a great song.

Blue Sky Thinking – Kayleigh Stephenson. Lovely way to end the evening, again with a more uptempo number. I really Kayleigh’s voice.

An Evening with Chris Passey and Friends really was an evening to remember. Great songs, amazing performances by everyone involved, lovely banter in-between songs and even a short (video) appearance from Miranda Sings – all for a good cause. Chris writes such beautiful and moving songs and seeing them performed in such a tiny space was wonderful.

If you haven’t bought “Self Taught, Still Learning” yet, you can get it from iTunes, Dress Circle or British Theatre, with all proceeds going to the MS Society and Cancer Research UK.

A Spotlight on Matthew Gent, Landor Theatre

19 Jan

A Spotlight on… is a series of one-night cabarets at the Landor Theatre, which  give performers the opportunity to share their talents and their favourite songs and tell their stories in this intimate 60 seats venue.

Matthew Gent’s credits include Les Misérables and  Phantom of the Opera in the West End, Bright Lights Big City (Hoxton Hall) and The Hired Man (Landor Theatre). He was accompanied on the piano by Magnus Gilljam.

Matthew started off with Running Wild from the movie Some Like It Hot and then proceeded to sing a  musical medley that included everything from Mary Poppins to Andrew Lloyd Webber, which was wonderful and very entertaining.

Next up was Something’s Coming from West Side Story, another very impressive performance.

I’ve only ever listened to The Wiz once some time ago and it didn’t leave a great impression, but I loved Matthew’s What Would I Do If I Could Feel from it.

His I Get a Kick Out of You from Anything Goes was great, the song suited his voice so well.

I really liked his jazzy My Baby Just Cares For Me.

Jessie May

For There Once Was a Man from The Pajama Game Matthew was joined by his first guest of the evening, the very talented Jessie May. I loved this song.

Next up was a medley of three Rodgers and Hart songs: You Mustn’t Kick It Around from Pal Joey, My Funny Valentine from Babes in Arms and Manhattan from Garrick Gaieties.

Gavin James

He then sang Take Me To The World from Sondheim’s Evening Primrose with Gavin James. This was one of the highlights of the evening for me, their voices sounded just wonderful together.

Now For The First Time from The Hired Man. I loved the production at the Landor Theatre last year and his rendition was very good, but I still think I prefer it as a duet.

Matthew’s Does The Moment Ever Come from Stiles & Drewe’s Just So was great. It’s such a lovely song anyway, but he managed to make it even better.

The last song before the interval was What Kind of Fool Am I from Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. A perfect way to end the first half.

The second half started with Boy With Dreams from Edges. This is one of my favourites songs from it, a wonderful performance by Matthew.

Run Away With Me is probably one of the most popular cabaret songs at the moment. It is great though, and so was his rendition.

Jessie May came back on stage to sing Get Out and Stay Out from 9 To 5. She really has a fantastic voice.

Tabitha Webb

Matthew then was joined by Tabitha Webb for “The Rooftop Scene” from Phantom of the Opera (Why Have You Brought Us Here/All I Ask of You). I must admit that I’m not a great fan of this musical, but I saw him as Raoul once and thought he was great, so I enjoyed hearing it again.

Next up was Love Look Away from Flower Drum Song. Another great song and Matthew sounded stunning.

I absolutely loved his Where Do You Start (Michael Feinstein). It’s a beautiful song and he sang it with so much emotion.

Tabitha Webb came back on stage to sing So Many People from Sondheim’s Saturday Night, before Matthew sang Hero and Leander from Guettel’s song cycle Myths and Hymns.

Matthew then sang a beautiful song by Ricky Ian Gordon. Unfortunately I have no idea what it’s called.

The last song was Grace Kelly (Mika). I don’t particularly like this song, but it definitely showed off Matthew’s versatility.

His encore was If, again from Stiles & Drewe’s Just So. I think it’s one of the best MT songs I know and he nailed it. For me it was the perfect ending to such a wonderful evening.

In the course of the evening, Matthew Gent did not only show what a fantastic voice he has, but his stories and anecdotes in between the songs were witty, interesting and very entertaining.

All in all, it was a highly enjoyable evening and proved to me that he is one of those incredibly talented young performers you should watch out for.

Matthew is also a regular host for Show Off! at Cafe Koha. More information can be found here.

Spamalot, UK Tour (Theatre Royal, Brighton)

16 Dec

Spamalot, “a new musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail” by Eric Idle and John du Prez opened this Thursday at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. I love Monty Python and saw Spamalot several times in the West End, so I was looking forward to seeing finally seeing the touring production.

It’s hard to not compare it to the West End production. It took me a while to get used to the very bright and colourful sets and costumes that looked very panto-y. The cast is also a lot smaller with only four ensemble members and therefore some scenes have either been shortened (Run Away) or look a bit empty on stage (pretty much all ensemble scenes), though I don’t think it’s obvious if you’ve never seen another production.

Marcus Brigstocke as King Arthur is a genius casting decision. He really nails the part and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand in no time at all. Todd Carty as his faithful “horse” Patsy isn’t a great singer, but it didn’t really bother me with this part. Jodie Prenger as the Lady of the Lake has a surprisingly strong voice and her comic timing was spot on. Robin Armstrong gives a very strong performance as Sir Bedevere (who is now highly intelligent instead of flatulent), Dennis’ Mother, Concorde and other female roles including Susan Boyle. I really liked Jon Robyns as Sir Dennis Gallahad, but I thought his Black Knight and Prince Herbert’s Father were even better. Some of his funny lines fell a bit flat, but it was only his first performance. Graham MacDuff gave another amazing performance, he was hilarious in all of his parts, especially as the French Taunter, but of course also as Sir Lancelot, Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter. However, there were two people who stood out for me: Rob Delaney and Adam Ellis. Ellis’ Historian is very matter-of-fact, but also a bit camp, which makes his short scenes a joy to watch. His Prince Herbert is fabulous and his Not Dead Fred and Minstrel are hilarious. Delaney really is outstanding in all his roles, his Sir Robin is excellent. I’m not a fan of the new You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz, but he almost managed to make me like it (I have the cast recording, so I already knew it) and that says something. His comic timing is spot on, as are his facial expressions. Both have incredible stage presence and were great vocally. Tim Bonser, Rachel Knowles, Hannah Malekzad and Kit Orton play all the other minor parts and are wonderful, too!

Yes, this production is very downscaled, but it just goes to show that a great musical doesn’t need fancy sets etc. I enjoyed it very much, laughed a lot and I honestly think this cast is among the strongest I have seen.

Spamalot is on in Brighton until the 14th January 2012 and then embarks on its UK tour. Tour dates and ticket info can be found here.

Goodbye Barcelona, Arcola Theatre

14 Dec

Goodbye Barcelona is a new musical by Judith Johnson and K. S. Lewkowicz set in the Spanish Civil War. It follows the story of Sammy, an 18-year old Jewish boy from London, who decides to join the International Brigades to fight against Franco and the fascists. In Spain he falls in love with with Pilar, who has lost both her parents in the war and now has to look after her sister. His mother Rebecca misses him so much that she decides to join up too to find him in Spain. Working as a nurse, she falls in love with the anarchist Ernesto, who decides to help her find Sammy. Meanwhile Sammy, Jack, George and the rest of the International Brigaders prepare for the last decisive battle…

Katie Bernstein & Tom Gill

Tom Gill is excellent as the naive and ideallistic Sammy, his acting is very intense. Lucy Bradshaw gives a very moving and heartfelt performance as his mother Rebecca. Katie Bernstein (Pilar) has a great voice, another first class performance. John Killoran‘s performance as Ernesto is incredibly moving. Jack Shalloo as George, the leader of their unit, has a very distinctive voice that stands out from the others. It’s nice to see him in a completely different role for a change and he definitely doesn’t disappoint. Mark Meadows is equally great as the bitter, disillusioned and cynical Jack, the oldest and most experienced

Laura Tebbutt

member of their unit. His You’ll Learn was great. Laura Tebbutt shows her amazing voice as La Pasionaria and also plays Ernesto’s sister Maria.

Goodbye Barcelona has a very strong score, I couldn’t name a single song that I did not like. The rousing ensemble numbers sounded amazing. I especially liked the way they incorporated the Internationale into it and then reprised it later with different lyrics. Speaking of the lyrics, I thought they were very moving and heartfelt. The story itself is quite predictable, but despite of this I found the ending very hard to watch.

It’s a story of courage, love, passion and war, brought to life by an excellent cast. I found it completely gripping and really hope that his production is not the last that will be seen of this musical.

Goodbye Barcelona runs until the 23rd December at the Arcola Theatre. Tickets can be booked online.

Peter Pan, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

14 Dec

This Christmas, the Mayflower Theatre is showing a new musical version of Peter Pan by Roger S. Moss and Robert Scott.

Here the well-known story is set in the present, with the explanation that the story repeats itself again and again and Wendy being the original Wendy’s grandaughter.

Peter Pan is played by Daniel Boys. I was a bit worried that he might look to old for the part, but in this version this works perfectly. I didn’t really warm to Katie Ray‘s Wendy. I always think Wendy should have a certain naivety and innocence about her and Katie’s more grown-up and assured take on her didn’t do it for me at all. Ben Richards as Captain Hook looks like he’s just jumped out of Pirates of the Carribean, great performance though. Lucy Benjamin as Mrs. Darling has a great voice and Les Dennis as Smee was very good too. In fact, the whole cast was, but the show itself just left me completely cold and not even the excellent cast could make up for its short-fallings.

The positive things first though, I thought the flying was very well done. I’m not usually a fan of projections (and the one at the beginning almost made me feel sea-sick), but the underwater scene in the Blue Lagoon looked absolutely stunning.

However, that’s as far as it goes. Musically, I though it was pretty forgettable. There is one good song (Never Stop Telling the Story), which is then reprised again and again until you can’t hear it anymore. But for me the biggest problem is that it’s just not really a musical. It’s more than a panto, but it still has so many elements of one in it. And why the pirates sing YMCA/In the Navy at one point is completely beyond me. Right now, it’s somewhere in between those two and just feels uninspired. It also dragged quite a bit in places. I was almost relieved when it was finished (with, surprisingly, a reprise of Never Stop Telling the Story…).  It’s a shame, because it’s such a wonderful story, but this musical doesn’t do it any justice. It’s got potential, but the creative team should decide where they want to go with the story.

There is already a wonderful musical version of Peter Pan (by Stiles & Drewe), which is far superior to this one and it’s a shame that it’s not put on anywhere. It would have made for a far more entertaining evening, that’s for sure.

If you want to judge for youself, Peter Pan is on until the 14th January 2010

The Lost Christmas, Waterloo East Theatre

14 Dec

The Lost Christmas is a new family musical by Laurence Mark Wythe, which is shown at the Waterloo East Theatre until

It’s the year 3999 and a robot feels that something is missing, a special day, but neither he nor his friend know what it could be. So they decide to travel back in time to year 2011 to ask the humans what it is. They arrive in the Henderson’s living room, where young Sophie is waiting for Santa to bring the presents. Shocked at the idea that there won’t be a Christmas anymore in the future, she decides that they all have to go to the North Pole to speak to Santa. After discovering that their daughter has disappeared in the middle of the night, her parents follow them too. Once there, it is up to Sophie to convince Santa that children still believe in him and the spirit of Christmas.

I thought the cast was great throughout. Erica Birtles shines as Sophie and has a lovely voice. Kate Brennan and Phil Pritchard as her parents have some lovely moments and Action Man is a real show stopper. Stephen Oliver-Webb and Natalie Law as Elfina and Elfaffa look wonderfully geeky with their glasses. Michael Hobbs as Twofour and Greg Herst as Threesix, the two robots, are great, both have very strong voices. Tim Heath as the disillusioned Santa and Natalie Morgan as his headstrong daughter Santina complete the cast.

The songs are all very catchy, I’m still trying to get Christmas Eve at the Hendersons out of my head. I also liked that every character gets their own special moment and a chance to shine. It’s a funny, heart warming and ultimately very entertaining musical. It’s also only about 70  minutes long, so suitable for younger children as well. Those around me were captivated all the way through and I left feeling all Christmassy. It’s the perfect alternative for those who might not want to see a panto.

The Lost Christmas is on until the 23rd December. You can book tickets online or by calling 0207 928 0060.