Jennifer Marsden, the creator of Knights of the Rose, is a qualified barrister, yet she has always been interested in theatre. She began writing Knights of the Rose over eight years ago. Here she shares her love for poetry, verse, rock music and, most of all, theatre.
The stage adaptation of the Baz Luhrmann classic is everything you expect this show to be: camp, glittery, fun, and maybe just a little bit trite.
London’s Piccadilly Theatre transports us to the glitzy world of 1980s Australia, complete with lycra, sequins, leg warmers, fake tan, and roller-skates, as dancing protégé Scott Hastings battles with his desire to break free of the chains of the dancing federation and dance the steps he wants to with the girl he wants to dance with.
Twang!! The Musical, originally written by Lionel Bart and Harvey Orkin in 1965 is now showing at the Union Theatre. An adapted version has been rewritten by Julian Woolford and Richard John (my review here.) Its director, Bryan Hodgson, shares his intrigue in Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and the production’s journey so far in the all-singing and all-dancing Sherwood Forest.
Fly back in time on the back of a kite with chimney sweeps dancing on the rooftops of London. Follow a curious bear, with a particular fondness for honey, on his adventures with a little piglet. Then, swing from tree to tree with apes and giant orangutans singing the words “I wanna be like you.” These childhood images are none other than the great works of Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964), Winnie-the-Pooh (1966) and The Jungle Book (1967). What makes these works truly magical are the musical scores and lyrics its creators, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (aka the “Sherman Brothers“), bestowed upon them.
(There are spoilers in this review.)
Who enjoys a spoonful of sugar and a healthy dose of bitchiness any day of the week? Okay, don’t raise your hands up, all at once. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there with cut-throat egotists and competitive divas willing to dispose of the bodies of their enemies (and frenemies) to get the number one spot.
Step out of your comfort zone
A few common ethoses used for challenging oneself are: Try something new, get out of your comfort zone or experience something different. This is precisely what I did when I was invited to the press night of Barn Theatre’s new inaugural production of Marsha Norman’s musical The Secret Garden. I have never been to the Cotswolds or Cirencester before. It is very rare indeed for me to see a theatre production outside of the city. (It’s bad, I know.)
Within the last two weeks 2018 has come into full swing. There’s been so many news bulletins from the opera, theatre and the classical music world that I’ve decided to break down the theatre news into one blog post and bring you opera and classical music news tomorrow in another post. Enjoy!
The Other Palace Theatre has transformed its stage to the cosmic and intergalactic new production Eugenius!, which sends audiences back into the dreamy 80’s. For the oldies, like myself, it’s as if I never left. For anyone who wants to celebrate their childhood love of Thunder Cats, HeMan or 80’s movies, with the likes of Star Wars, Freddie Krueger or E.T., Eugenius! is the one to watch, but be prepared for heaps of cheese, 80’s fashion and cringe.
The Other Palace Theatre has just turned one year’s old and Eugenius! kick-starts its 2018 with an all-round inspiring and feel-good musical, directed by Sir Ian Talbot. Ben Adams (songwriter and producer for artists including Craig David and Alexander Burke) and Chris Wilkins (songwriter and voiceover artist) wrote Eugenius!, which was first showcased in the UK in 2016 at the London Palladium. Multi-talented actor and singer Liam Forde is the show’s comic book geek Eugene and Laura Baldwin performs as Eugene’s friend zoned pal Janey who is just as nerdy as he is but glows with extra sassiness. While Daniel Buckley truly impresses the audience with his moonwalking, rapping, vocal harmony and charm, putting the cool kids to shame with his courage and freaky naughtiness.
I have never seen James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 musical Follies ever before, until last night. It was only by chance that I was a subscriber to the National Theatre’s e-letters that I first heard about the date (July 18th) they were releasing tickets for the sensational show with leading actress Imelda Staunton. Her breathtaking performance at the Harold Pinter Theatre for Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, this year, gave me a lasting impression of her stage work; it was a no-brainer to book a ticket and see her again. Yet Follies isn’t just about one performer. Other stars from the musical world are present here such as Janie Dee, Tracie Bennett, Dawn Hope and opera soprano Josephine Barstow, and most of them left the audience positively speechless. It comes as no surprise that they won the audience’s heart with the many rounds of applause they received after each solo number.
Follies is a celebratory and nostalgic work of musical theatre that unveils the happenings of a reunion of the Weisman (pseudo-Ziegfeld) Follies girls, that’s three decades after they first stepped into the revue theatre stage. Director Dominic Cooke, designer Vicki Mortimer and choreographer Bill Deamer are part of a creative team that pushes the boundaries with Sondheim’s imagining, which easily plucks our heartstrings. There’s a live orchestra of twenty musicians, conducted by Nigel Lilley, which are sadly hidden behind the main stage, yet they are masterful at their individual craft. Whether it was a harp, flute or brass instrument, the audience heard the sounds and admired Sondheim’s score. As previously pointed out, this is the first time I’ve seen Follies, yet, still, I found a strong emotional pull towards the musical performances that I had tears rolling down my cheeks, following numerous great numbers including ‘Beautiful Girls’, ‘Broadway Baby’, ‘Who’s that woman?’ and ‘One More Kiss’. I wasn’t sure if it was Sondheim I should be thanking, or the performers, or both. Either way, this was a brilliant performance that had me smiling endlessly.
At the Savoy Theatre, director-choreographer Michael Bennett sees his 1981 Tony award-winning hit get a UK premiere. Anyone who loves musicals and strong vocals shouldn’t hesitate to see Dreamgirls. It is without question that lovers of Motown and soul music will also be more than satisfied with what Dreamgirls has to offer.
Loosely based on The Supremes, Dreamgirls is a reminder of the struggles of the music industry during 1960’s America – a time when blues and jazz music were once described as ‘race music’, and only then had the uprising of the African-American Civil Rights movement just begun.
Another outstanding show I can tick off the theatre list. It surpassed my expectations & was better than I thought it would be. I completely understand why it is difficult to get tix to @HamiltonMusical.I've never seen anything like it before. A rap, rnb & musical lovers delight.