Tag Archives: David McMullan

Pippin, Menier Chocolate Factory

27 Nov

Pippin is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Roger O’Hirson and is (very) loosely based on the life of Pippin, son of Charlemagne. It is more a general coming-of-age story, where Pippin tries to find his place in the world and searches for fulfillment. Schwartz’s score is quite poppy and there are some very catchy songs in it.

The staging is very futuristic. The musical technically begins once you leave the bar area when you walk past Pippin staring into a computer screen before entering the auditorium, which turns out to be the inside of his computer. The Leading Player (Matt Rawle) and his troupe guide us through the story, which is structured like a computer game, where Pippin, as new member of the troupe, has to pass each level to get to the next one. The choreography (based on the original Broadway choreography by Bob Fosse) is exciting and I loved the way they used screens and projections and especially the non-solid walls. It made for a very intense theatrical experience.

Harry Hepple makes a great Pippin, he’s got a lovely voice. Ian Kelsey as his father Charlemagne is as authoritative as you’d expect him to be.  Matt Rawle oozes charisma as the Leading Player, but I found him quite hard to understand sometimes, amazing voice though. Louise Gold as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe  won the audience over with her karaoke-style song. I liked Frances Ruffelle as Pippin’s stepmother Fastrada, but I found her a bit wooden sometimes. David Page plays her violent and not-so-clever son Lewis, another very strong performance. Carly Bawden is a very sweet and gently Catherine with a wonderful voice, and I also liked Stuart Neal as her son Theo. Ben Bunce, Bob Harms, Holly James, Anabel Kutay, David McMullan and Kate Tydman are all amazing dancers. It’s just an incredibly strong cast.

I found this production very dark and disturbing. There are some more light-hearted moments in it, but the dark theme prevails throughout the musical. It’s probably one of those productions that people either love or hate, there were several audience member who didn’t return after the interval, but I firmly belong to the first group. It’s one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen this year and I’m looking forward to seeing it again later in its run.

Pippin runs until the 25th February 2011 at the Menier Chocolate Factory and you can book tickets online or by phone 020 7378 1713.

One word of warning though: The auditorium was/is incredibly hot!

David McMullan, Cabaret in the House

16 Oct

The new season of Cabaret in the House started off with David McMullan (Mary Poppins, Hairspray, Love Never Dies in the West End and most recently Ragtime at the Landor Theatre) and Holly Julier (Secret Garden, Edinburgh and Toronto). Lauderdale House is a lovely venue, even though it can be a bit of a hassle to get to Highgate on weekends.

Holly Julier has a great voice and is incredible versatile. She began with Gorgeous from The Apple Tree, then sang a wonderful rendition of Wait a Bit from Stiles & Drewe’s Just So. Her other songs were Green Finch and Linnet Bird from Sweeney Todd, Special from Avenue Q, There Are Worse Things I Could Do from Grease, Not A Day Goes By from Merrily We Roll Along, Hold On and How Could I Ever Know from The Secret Garden, Hold Down the Fort from John and Jen, Where Is It Written? from Yentl, I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady and finally Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Milly. I loved her mix of more classical musical theatre and modern songs. Most of them are among my favourite songs anyway, so it was lovely to hear them sung so well live.

After a short interval it was time for David McMullan. He began with This is the Moment (from Jekyll & Hyde), which then turned into a disastrous (and very funny) audition. Then he sang Climbing Uphill, but with a running commentary of his thought process during an audition. Again, very funny, and the remark about Richard Blackwood definitely got the most laughs.

His Who I’d Be from Shrek was great. I’ve never heard the song sung (live) by a good singer before. I also loved his What Do You Do With a BA in Performance, especially the line “Although I can pirouette, I can’t pay the bills yet”, followed by I Want To Be a Rockette and a personalised version of Alto’s Lament, which were both brilliant.

After that he sang a beautiful Anthem from Chess. I thought his voice suited this song perfectly. He then moved on to the “sentimental” part of the afternoon and first sang Proud of Your Boy and then What Do I Need With Love.

I never thought that a song about tea could be so entertaining, but his Ode to Tea/Have a Cuppa was both wonderfully sung and funny. Standing on the Corner was great too, I just liked how he made all these songs his own. Lots of great Jersey Boys/Mary Poppins references in this one.

His last song (before the encore of course) was a mash-up of Dancin’ Fool, I Could Have Danced All Night and some other songs about dancing. The encore was a medley of songs you should never sing at an audition: And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, Defying Gravity, Rain On My Parade, As Long As He Needs Me, maybe some others too.

It was the perfect ending for a great afternoon. David McMullan has such a beautiful voice and he seems to be a born entertainer. As much as I loved the more comedic numbers, the ballads really showed off his voice.

I don’t think I could have spent those two hours any better than watching these two talented, young performers and I hope I get the chance to see them on a stage again soon.

David McMullan will appear in Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 22 November.