The most hyped up show in London’s West End at the moment is undoubtedly Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.
Tickets have been booked up more than a year in advance. There’s a script book for Potter fans so those who can’t make it into London can get stuck into the story too. There’s a #keepthesecrets campaign to stop spoilers spreading uncontained across the internet.
But does the play actually live up to expectations?
I went to see it on Sunday October 15, 2017 after booking tickets in August 2016 and I have quite mixed feelings. Here they are, represented mostly in gif form.
I wrote about Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre back in April here.
The production has since moved to the Phoenix Theatre in Charing Cross Road and changed a fair bit of the cast. And for eight weeks, until August 21, that includes sexism-defying Hollywood actress/comedian Rebel Wilson as Miss Adelaide.
Putting her own touch on the Hot Box singer and 14-year fiancee of Nathan Detroit, Rebel made the most of every opportunity for a cheeky, slightly outrageous joke and often had the audience roaring with laughter. She definitely brought a comedic edge to the show that gave it an extra oomph, especially as the audience was clearly willing her to do well.
A glitzy, showy, classic musical at the spectacular venue of the Savoy Theatre (it has now moved to the Phoenix Theatre with a slightly different cast). As a big fan of Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando in the iconic movie version of the gambling love story, my hopes were very high.
Awkward comedian James Acaster finished off his Represent tour with one big gig at London’s Lyric Theatre (where Thriller normally lives- cue various show mix-up jokes) on Monday December 14.
Despite it being a sure success, at times the theatre felt slightly too vast, especially for the more bizarre jokes which didn’t hit with everyone. Interestingly, fellow comedian Nish Kumar was in the stalls and turned out to have a very distinctive and loud laugh- often cracking up Acaster, who explained the pair have the ‘exact same sense of humour’.
Roald Dahl’s tales have so far stood the test of time and are still proving fruitful for adaptations and reinterpretations.
Aside from Matilda the Musical, also currently on in the West End, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane follows hot on the heels of a film adaptation spearheaded by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, which itself came 34 years after Gene Wilder’s classic turn as Willy Wonka. (That may seem a long time, but the latter seems to have stuck in the public conscience).
So what can the theatre show offer that you can’t just get from choosing one of the movies and slouching in front of the TV?
Sunny Afternoon will cheer up even the most miserable of London evenings. Just don’t go in with a headache or the guitars – the loudest I have heard in musical theatre thus far – will only make it worse.
Written by Ray Davies himself, the show follows the story of The Kinks (Ray and Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory from their early days together in Muswell Hill, as they hit the big time, get kicked out of America and find their feet again. It’s an organic, natural story and although it flounders a little in the second act, it generally moves along well and cleverly incorporates the hits.
Because the songs are of course the backbone of the show. The cast and band (especially John Dagleish as Ray) are magnificent, giving the audience an experience surely not far off the real Kinks.
Go and see The Commitments if you love Motown and live music. Don’t bother if you believe a musical needs to have a proper plot to entertain you for two and a half hours.
The show follows Jimmy as he sets up a soul band in Dublin made up of working class lads, three pretty girls they barely know and a middle-aged trumpet legend, Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan. The band, who aren’t very good to start with, start rehearsing and land their first gigs, but have to deal with a saxophonist who’s leaning towards jazz, Joey getting all the girls and an egotistic lead singer.
If you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like a lot of drama, you’d be right and there’s the problem. After a slow start, the plot never really goes anywhere except as a platform for the band to play music, and they don’t even play several songs all the way through in rehearsals.
Bill Bailey‘s work in progress show at the Leicester Square Theatre was my first of 2014 and it was absolutely hilarious and a pleasure to see Bailey’s unique mix of music and straight stand up in such an intimate place.
In complete contrast was Jeff Dunham, a brash American with puppets at Wembley Arena, who had people from all walks of life in stitches with Peanut and Achmed. Also, Jon Richardson, a favourite of mine, cheered me up greatly on one grumpy Friday at the Hammersmith Apollo.
I moved to London officially in early 2014 so I was lucky enough to see lots of shows and other events. Let’s dive straight in to the round-up.
I drove from London to Portsmouth and back especially to see Newton Faulkner in March and he did not disappoint with impressive acoustic guitar stylings, a complimentary backing band and a casual, intimate vibe.
I saw Justin Timberlake twice at the O2 and he was absolutely brilliant both times. He is a born entertainer in a surprisingly similar way to Michael Buble, who I also saw this year after first seeing him in 2013. Both had world class bands, smooth voices, charming personalities and slick moves, just with a different genre of music.