Tag Archives: Simon Greiff

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.

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Scott Alan & Friends, Jermyn Street Theatre

26 Jun

For one night only, the American composer Scott Alan was back in London for a late-night concert at the Jermyn Street Theatre, organised by SimG Productions.

I love his music, mainly because I can relate to many of his songs and they are just beautiful, but I had never seen him live before.

He was joined by Stuart Matthew Price, Annalene Beechey, Ashleigh Gray, Bradley White-Dale, Cassie McIvor and Mark Evans for the evening.

The atmosphere was very relaxed, loads of joking and banter among the performers (and swearing from  Scott 😉 ) and apparently no rehearsals beforehand.

Scott started the concert with West from his album Keys. Lovely song and I really like his voice.

He then sang It’s Good To See You Again, the song he sang in his first ever concert in London at the Duchess Theatre.

Kiss The Air was next, sung by Bradley White-Dale . I love this song, but I wasn’t too keen on Bradley’s performance. I can’t even say what it was that I didn’t like, because he wasn’t bad in any way, but I think I just prefer other interpretations of that song.

After some not so nice comments about Betty Blue Eyes by Scott, Stuart Matthew Price sang Blessing, a song he wrote for his mother when he came out.I’ll just have to say it again, but I love the way he acts whatever song he sings.

Ashleigh Gray’s Never Neverland was stunning!

Mark Evans then sang a song that’s going to be on his new album, unfortunately I didn’t catch its title, but I’ll call it Waiting For You for now. It’s another beautiful song and I’m looking forward to hearing the recorded version.

Then Cassie McIvor sang Home, which apparently is about his dog. It’s one of my favourite songs and Cassie was great.

Having saved the best for last, Annalene Beechey sang a beautiful rendition of I Remember. She’s got such a gorgeous voice, simply stunning! As is the song.

The last song, sung again by Scott himself, was Anything Worth Holding On To. It’s one of the rare songs that are better at expressing what I feel/felt than I am myself and I’ll be forever grateful to Scott for writing about these things that nobody ever seems to talk about. Just the knowledge that you are not alone and there are other people out there, going through similar feelings, is comforting and I’m sure I’m not the only one getting this sort of comfort from Scott’s music.

Hopefully his sister really is moving to London, so that we can get many more Scott Alan concerts over here! In the meantime, go and buy his albums if you haven’t got them already! Either at Dress Circle or from his website .