Archive for July 2008

Review: Chinese Acrobatic Swan Lake

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Venue: The Lowry
Date Reviewed: 31st July, 2008


Having seen countless versions of Swan Lake, for me, nothing has quite lived up to Matthew Bourne‘s genre-busting vision of this feathery classic.

Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe Of China‘s fast and loose, visual treat certainly leaves you feeling like you have not seen it all before.

Purists may balk at some of the new additions, but by adding acrobats, jugglers, jumping jacks, human wheels, uni-cyclists and rollerskaters means that there is never a dull moment. It is not a show without flaws, though. There are so many short, sharp scene changes that unsurprisingly stage hands cannot keep up, leading to a few technical hitches on opening night.

Also, by delivering a concept, proving that China has indeed got talent means that any lulls in the narrative seem to last forever, due to the break-neck pace that has come before. But, like true professionals, the talented cast are completely unfazed, delivering exemplary performances, defying gravity and a sense of logic, leaving you scratching your head, thinking “How did they they do that?” (more…)

Exchange’s ‘Glass Menagerie’ tours, ‘Hayfever’ extends

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

The Royal Exchange Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie starring Brenda Blethyn is being revived – complete with its original cast – for theatregoers across the country.

Double Oscar nominee, Golden Globe and BAFTA award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn reprises the role of fading Southern belle Amanda Wingfield – one of the great roles in American drama – in Williams’ poetic and soulful evocation of the pains of growing up in a material world.

Her big screen successes include Little Voice (Academy Award nomination) and Secrets and Lies (Golden Globe and BAFTA award for Best Actress and Academy Award nomination). Her numerous TV credits include Outside Edge, Grown Ups and Buddha Of Suburbia and other recent stage work includes Habeas Corpus (Donmar), Mrs Warren’s Profession (Strand Theatre) and Night Mother (New York). (more…)

Is 17 too young to play Sally Bowles?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I am sure that fans of Samantha Barks (pictured) are rejoicing at the recent announcement that she is to be cast as Sally Bowles in Bill Kenwright’s touring version of the Kander and Ebb classic, Cabaret. It will no doubt inspire many more contestants to line up ready to audition for the next search for a star reality tv show.

But, at 17, is Barks too young to take on the role immortalised by Liza Minnelli but also played by, among them; Molly Ringwald, Teri Hatcher, Brooke Shields, Amy Nuttall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Gina Gershon and of course Judi Dench? It’s not just her age that bothers me, it’s the lack of experience.

I, like any other theatregoer appreciate that a ‘star’ name will attract crowds. In this case, the producers have shrewdly thought that Samantha will attract a younger crowd who would not normally see Cabaret and I can see their logic. But surely Nuttall, Kim Metcalfe or another older actress who has lived a bit more woud have been more appropriate.

Rufus Norris‘ recent version of Cabaret was not my favourite show, but it did attempt to do something different with the show, whether it be via the nudity or the racier staging. But I now cannot help think that the touring version will resemble a family-friendly Joseph style piece, with a young protagonist who will look like she is playing ‘dress-up’, as opposed to getting under the skin of one of musical theatre’s most flawed heroines.

What you you think?

Let us know whether you agree or disagree by leaving a comment here or go to our discussion board.

‘Footloose’ cuts loose at the Opera House, Nov

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

The hit show Footloose makes another visit to the region in November. The stage musical based on the popular 1984 teen film of the same name centres on city boy Ren who moves with his mother to a small town in middle America where rock music and dancing are outlawed for religious reasons. Sparks fly when Ren and the minister’s teenaged daughter Ariel rebel. The film version starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer.

Several of Kenny Loggins and Bonnie Tyler’s songs from the movie – including “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”, “Almost Paradise”, “Holding Out for a Hero” and the title song – became chart-topping pop hits. All are used in the stage musical. Current casting has yet to be announced but the previous tour/West End cast featured Tommy Sherlock (Ren), Miria Parvin (Ariel), Julian Agnew (Reverend Moore) and Lyn Paul (Vi Moore).

The stage adaptation – with a book by Walter Bobbie and Dean Pitchford, who wrote the original screenplay – had its Broadway premiere in October 1998, running for nearly two years. The musical received its UK premiere in February 2004, launching its first tour from Plymouth . (more…)

Mamma Mia! This Winner Takes It All!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Further to the last piece of goss, box office figures for Mamma Mia! the movie continue to go through the roof. At the moment the film has made $62 million in the States, but even better is the UK tally of £24 million making it the highest total gross in the top ten this week. Cinemas are reporting that the film has a repeat business factor with many Abba fans, coming back for me. The great news is that Hollywood will produce more musicals on the back of this huge success. With Nine already in production and Wicked rumoured, what other musicals can we expect? With horror films constantly being remade, I do hope that we do not see an influx of musical remakes.

If you need the success of Mamma Mia! put into context, it’s UK gross so far has beaten the individual total gross of Moulin Rouge, Hairspray and Sweeney Todd. The way that it’s going, it looks set beat their combined box office totals!

This winner has taken it all. But has it got much steam left? We’ll keep you posted.