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.
Currently showing at the Union Theatre is Julian Woolford’s adaptation of Lionel Bart’s failed musical Twang!! According to a 1966 issue of The Montreal Gazette, Bart’s musical was “the most expensive flop ever presented in the city.” It was performed 43 times and received many scathing reviews which led to the end of its tenure at the West End. Bart, the same songwriter who gave musical lovers ‘Oliver!’, lost his personal fortune because of the many failings of Twang!!: lack of a strong script; a badly underwritten part for Robin Hood; absence of comradery between the choreographer, writer and designers and, even, concerns over Bart’s recreational drug and alcohol usage.
In 2008, Woolford was commissioned to write a new book for the musical by the Estate of Lionel Bart. The current Head of Musical Theatre at Guildford School of Acting saw his adaptation performed first in 2013. Now in 2018, with direction from Bryan Hodgson and arrangement and orchestration by Richard John and Oli Jackson, there’s tons of fun and laughter to be experienced in this highly energetic, camp and tuneful production. Compared to fifty-two years ago there’s a lot more collaboration between the stronghold of sixteen young performers and musicians (John and Jackson) on show at Union Theatre’s jam-packed stage.>>>
Could it be Bizet’s gorgeous score and the heartrending tragic tale that compels theatre-makers to recreate Carmen again and again?
This review includes spoilers.
When you hear the name ‘Carmen’ you automatically think of Georges Bizet’s operatic version, Spanish gypsy girls, bullfighters and a fiery temptress. That’s the traditional idea, anyway, but modern adaptations have taken the original French novella written by Prosper Mérimée and formed new and invigorating storylines.>>>
It was a bright Saturday morning in London, and I managed to speak to musical theatre performer and actor Rachel Lea-Gray on the phone. She is currently playing the lead role of Carmen in Phil Willmott‘s new production, Carmen 1808. The production’s run has already begun at the Union Theatre. I got to talk to Rachel about what she finds fascinating about Carmen, what challenges she faces performing her role, her love for Disney’s The Little Mermaid and what steaming your voice means. Much more below.
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