Tag Archives: Jack Shalloo

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.

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Stand Tall, Landor Theatre

13 Oct

Stand Tall is a new musical with music by Aldie Chalmers and Sandy Chalmers and book and lyrics by Lee Wyatt-Buchan. This production is directed by Simon Greiff.

It is a modern re-telling of the Biblical story of David and Goliath with a contemporary rock score. Here, David (Ryan O’Donnell) is a shepherd by day and a rock star by night. His life is alright until the mystical Black Sheep (Keisha Amponsa-Banson) chooses him to become the new King. He isn’t so sure about that, especially as he is also in love with Princess Mia (Natasha Barnes), the daughter of King Saul (Martin Pirongs). When word gets around that he is supposed to be the new King, Goliath (Jack Shalloo) becomes jealous and angry and starts to threaten and attack David. He finally challenges him to a guitar battle to decide who should become King and get Princess Mia. David has only one option: He needs to stand tall!

I did enjoy this musical, probably more than some other rock musicals out there (which shall remain unnamed). There are some good songs in it. I especially liked Goliath’s Song, Hold Me/Don’t Cry and of course the title song Stand Tall. Having said that, I don’t think they were very memorable though and I think the different styles don’t add anything to the musical, apart from making it appear very fragmented.

Ryan O’Donnell makes a great David and he’s got a very good voice. He was very believable and I especially liked his interactions with the Black Sheep.

Keisha Amponsa-Banson as the Black Sheep acts as a sort of narrator to the whole story, she holds it together and keeps it going. She’s got an incredible voice and has some great one-liners.

Natasha Barnes as Princess Mia has a very sweet voice and I liked her performance a lot. Personally, I find Mia not a very interesting character, but she made the most of it. She and Ryan O’Donnell had great chemistry and I loved their duet towards the end of the show (So Indecisive).

I loved Jack Shalloo’s Goliath. He always seems to play a similar type of character, but he was great. Menacing, but also vulnerable. He’s got a very distinctive voice and it suited these songs perfectly.

I wasn’t too keen on Martin Pirongs, who plays King Saul, Cassius and Jessie (the fathers of Goliath and David). There was absolutely nothing wrong with his performance, so I think the main reason for this was the he was very quiet and I found it hard to hear him most of the time. Out of the three parts I probably preferred his King Saul.

Despite all this, I left the theatre not really knowing what to think of the musical and it took me a while to figure out what it was. I personally find the story and most of the characters too simplistic. It isn’t bad, but they could have made so much more out of it. I thought the characters weren’t really three-dimensional, with the exception of Goliath and, to a lesser extent, David. This made it difficult for me to really  get “into” the story. The cast worked very well together and you couldn’t tell it was the first ever performance, but there was just something missing. I somehow expected to be more moved by it, as it sounds so promising. Yes, there is an anti-bullying message, but it could have been explored more. There is a lot more focus on David’s self-esteem issues and Goliath’s abusive father. So for me, while I liked the concept of the show, it was a bit of a missed opportunity.

However, as I said before, I did enjoy it and the story isn’t in any way worse compared to those unnamed rock musicals, but I think it needs a lot of reworking.

The musical runs until the 12th November 2011 at the Landor Theatre in Clapham (which is a lovely venue by the way, by far my favourite fringe theatre!). There is also a four track studio recording (with a different cast) available, which can be purchased here.

Sunday in the Pub with… – MTA Fund-Raiser

28 Sep

Sunday in the Pub with… was a cabaret fund-raiser for and organised by two current students of the MTA, Lorin Jane Forster and Kieran Grant. The MTA (Musical Theatre Academy) is a unique institution which offers a 2 year fast track course in musical theatre. However, as they are a very new institution, the students at the MTA are not eligible for grants or student loans and have to fund the whole training themselves. Therefore those two students came up with the idea of this cabaret. It seemed to me that they did not expect so many people to turn up, because the venue was very crowded (and incredibly hot!), but the excellent performances on stage more than made up for that.

There was a mix of current and recently graduated students as well as some special guests. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening, but there were some songs/performers that stood out for me.

I Want A Man sung by Lorin Jane Forster and Sophie O’Shea. I love this song by Michael Bruce and they did a great job with it.

Touch of Love is a song from Dougal Irvine’s musical In Touch (which will get its first full-length performance at the MTA – exciting!) and is also on Stuart Matthew Price’s album All Things In Time. Fantastic song and performance by both Dougal Irvine and Stuart Matthew Price.

CiCi Howells sang Tim Prottey-Jones’s song Rain On Me. This was another highlight for me. I loved her voice!

In Short from Edges never fails to make me laugh and Aaron Lee Lambert (who is currently in Shrek) had the audience in stitches.

Next up were some songs from Dougal Irvine’s musical Departure Lounge. First, Robbie Durham and Kieran Grant sang Do You Know What I Think Of You? and then Steven Webb, Jack Shalloo and Stuart Matthew Price (all Departure Lounge alumni) joined Dougal Irvine on stage for the other four songs. I really enjoyed hearing them sing the songs again. Steven Webb sang Sophie and he was superb and then they all sang Why Do We Say Gay and Left Spain. My favourite however was Jack Shalloo’s Picture Book, because it was the best I have ever heard him sing it.

From Up Here was sung by all the MTA students and I really enjoyed it. Their voices blended so well and it’s a lovely song.

Tir Nan Og is another song from In Touch and I can only agree with Ziggie Sky Ward (who was great), I also fell in love with it when I first heard it.

Lorin Jane Forster sang Laurence Mark Whythe’s David’s House. I heard that song sung by someone who has already played a leading part in the West End only a couple of weeks ago, but I prefered Lorin’s version by miles. Not only does Lorin have a stunning voice, but she also acted the song. Probably my favourite performance of the evening!

Jack Shalloo came back on stage to sing a song from his album London Soul. She Takes Care Of Me is a very catchy song and I liked it a lot.

I have heard Stuart Matthew Price sing Road To Heaven before, but it is such a beautiful song that it is always a treat to hear it again.

For the last song of the evening all the MTA students came on stage again to sing Sunday from Sunday in the Park with George. It was the perfect ending for the evening and a great reminder of just how much talent had been on that stage in the past three hours.

I hope Lorin Jane Forster and Kieran Grant managed to raise lots of money and I wish them (and the other students at the MTA) the best of luck for the future. They did a wonderful job in putting that evening together and I am glad I managed to go.

Now I am looking forward to seeing some of the recent MTA graduates in the UK premiere of Nevermore in a couple of weeks…

Hamlet! The Musical, Richmond Theatre

26 May

I went to see Hamlet The Musical at the Richmond Theatre yesterday. I had heard only good things about it, so I was very excited to see it for myself.

It’s written by Alex Silverman, Timothy Knapman and Edward Jaspers and first premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Richmond Theatre is a lovely space and I had a perfect, unobstructed view from my seat in row J of the stalls.

As soon as the show started I knew I was going to love it. It is such an unique and absolutely hilarious take on the well-known story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Who knew that Shakespeare works that well as a musical comedy?! There are some references to other musicals in it, e.g. Les Misérables and We Will Rock You, or a cheeky gravestone labelled “A.L.W. – Love Never Dies”.

There is an incredibly talented cast of six, most of them playing several different characters.

Jack Shalloo as Hamlet has great comic timing and had the audience on his side right from the beginning. I had seen him before in The Kissing Dance and Departure Lounge and once again I found his stage presence outstanding.

Mark Inscoe, who plays Claudius and The Ghost has an amazing voice. His song “My Overwhelming Capacity For Doing Good” was one of the highlights of the show for me.

The same goes for David Burt, who plays the Gravedigger, Polonius and Portinbras (a real live hero!). I was lucky enough to see him in Beyond The Gate and The Kissing Dance earlier this year and it’s always a joy to watch him on stage.

Virge Gilchrist as Gertrude/Gravedigger has a lovely voice as well and provided some wonderful comic moments. Her “There Is A Willow” was great.

Jess Robinson plays Ophelia, Horatio and Rosencrantz. I liked her in all parts, but the highlight for me was her Rosencrantz.

Gabriel Vick is a wonderful Laertes. Again, great comic timing. Both “The Strangely Spanish Tango” and “The Strangely French Tango” were superb. He also plays Guildenstern and worked so well with Robinson’s Rosencrantz.

The songs were really catchy and I’ve tried in vain to get “To Be Or Not To Be” out of my head. All in all, it reminded me a lot of Spamalot, and also Avenue Q, though to a lesser extent. It’s a similiar kind of humour, making fun of everything and everyone and not taking anything seriously. I love both these shows, so it’s not a bad thing at all.

This show is just another proof that you don’t have to venture into the West End to see first class musicals! I had a wonderful evening and left the theatre humming the songs and will definitely make a return visit while I’ve got the chance!

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