Tag Archives: Tabard Theatre

Cinderella, Tabard Theatre

4 Dec

This musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II was originally written for television in 1955  and later adapted for the stage. I wasn’t very familiar with the musical before I saw it, I had only heard a couple of the songs before. The story, of course, is based on the well-known fairy tale Cinderella. The musical sticks very closely to the original and doesn’t really add anything new, but then, why should it.

Kirsty Mann is a simply charming Cinderella with a lovely voice. I thought she was just perfect for the part. Vlach Ashton as the dashingly handsome Prince Christopher was equally great, his voice easily filled the theatre. Their duets were a joy to watch (and listen to)!

Lydia Jenkins and Kate Scott as Cinderella’s (misleadingly named) stepsisters Grace and Joy are hilarious. Their facial expressions are wonderful.

Helen Colby plays both the Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother and is great as both, though I did prefer her as the latter. Her Fairy Godmother is quite unique and not really how you’d imagine her to be, which I really liked.

Josh Carter as the Prince’s stewart is quite camp at times, but never over the top, and there are some especially great moments between him and Cinderella’s Stepmother at the ball.

I really enjoyed Sarah Dearlove and Brendan Matthew as Queen Constantina and King Maximillian. They made a sometimes very funny, but always endearing royal couple and I loved their duet “Boys and Girls Like You and Me”.

Paul Dyke and Louise Gookey complete the cast and play various ensemble parts.

I thought this production used the limited space very well and I liked the staging a lot. I often complain about the sound levels, but (for the first time, I think) I found it pretty much perfect, I could hear and understand everything just fine.

Cinderella is simply a great piece of musical theatre, full of Rodgers’ sweeping melodies. The best proof of how good it is, for me, was the two-year old girl sitting in front of me, who was completely enthralled (and perfectly behaved) all the way through. So it really appeals to and is suitable for all ages. It’s such a simple story, but it’s got so much heart and just put a smile on my face. It’s perfect for a Christmas show and really puts you into a Christmassy mood. With this production, the Christmas season has definitely started now.

Cinderella runs at the Tabard Theatre (Chiswick) until the 8th January 2012. Tickets can be booked on their website. I’d really recommend this production to everyone, it’s the perfect Christmas entertainment for the whole family!

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You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard Theatre

5 Oct

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown is a musical based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner. This production is directed by the renowned lyricist Anthony Drewe. It first opened at an off-Broadway theatre in 1967, so all I can say is that I am glad it has finally made it to the UK, where it is now  shown for the first time at the Tabard Theatre in London.

It features all the familiar Peanuts characters: Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Sally and of course Charlie Brown. The story is quite simple, a bit cheesy, very funny and, most of all, heart-warming. I just couldn’t help smiling through-out most of the musical, because it was a joy to watch such a charming little musical. It’s all about friendship and growing-up and what makes someone good.

Charlie Brown is played by Lewis Barnshaw (who I last saw as Cooking Stove on the very same stage!). He is wonderfully naive, endearing and awkward. You just can’t help liking him.

Mark Anderson plays Snoopy. His dry comments and monologues probably got the most laughs tonight, and not only because he accidentally broke off one of the wooden propeller blades of his “doghouse plane”. Suppertime was one of the highlights of the show for me.

Hayley Gallivan as Sally Brown is great, too. She has an incredible voice and is very funny. I especially liked her in My New Philosophy.

Leanne Jones is probably best known for playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray and now we get her as Lucy van Pelt. She was so funny in her “survey” scene, but she also has some nice, less crabby moments in the show. Great chemistry with Adam Ellis.

Adam Ellis plays Linus van Pelt, Lucy’s younger brother. I think the word that best sums his performance up is sweet, especially his lisp. And he’s incredibly funny too. My Blanket and I was amazing!

Nathaniel Morrison as Schroeder was very good as well. His expressions in some scenes (Schroeder for one, or Glee Club Rehearsal) were priceless and he has a great voice.

The set was simple, yet clever and I loved it! I really liked how the kite flying is done and the way they just transform the doghouse in a blackboard, aeroplane etc. Schroeder’s piano is wonderful too. The same can be said for the choreography, especially the ensemble numbers. They were a joy to watch, there even is a tap number!

My only (minor) quibble is, as so often, the sound. They don’t use microphones and I thought that (mostly) the drums were too loud and drowned out some of the singing. I found it especially difficult to hear Lewis Barnshaw and Mark Anderson, but it improved a bit towards the end. It is a real shame though, because they both give such excellent performances.

Musically, I wouldn’t exactly call it a masterpiece, but it fits the story and the characters perfectly, which is the only thing that matters to me. The songs are quite catchy though and I am sure I won’t get them out of my head for at least a couple of days. The only song I was familiar with beforehand is the last song, Happiness, which makes a quite moving conclusion. As much as I dislike the idea that everything must have a deep, meaningful and hidden message, I think this musical does with this song.

To sum up: entertaining, incredibly talented cast, nice story and songs, great choreography, what more could you possibly ask for?! It runs until the 30th October and you can book tickets online or call 0208 995 6035.

If happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you (to quote the last song), this production of You’re  A Good Man Charlie Brown IS happiness! It definitely made me happy.

Please note that I attended the second (and last) preview, so there still might be some changes!