THEATRE REVIEW: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York’s Theatre

running until 2 September

After several years when it looked like this stage adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos might be stuck in development hell, writer Lee Hall and director Vicky Featherstone finally mounted the premiere of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in Edinburgh in 2015. Since then, it has toured Scotland and the north of England before Londoners hailed its arrival at the National Theatre last year – a run which won Best New Comedy at this year’s Olivier Awards. Now Our Ladies are making their West End debut as the show transfers to the Duke of York’s, injecting a fierce dose of teenage rebellion into the walls of this Victorian playhouse.

The cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (c) Manuel Harlan

What’s thrilling about this show is that it allows these six young actresses to be very, very funny – in a way that isn’t offered all too often in the West End. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: A Christmas Carol – The Musical, Lost Theatre

running until 31 December

Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens’s musical take on Dickens’s festive classic first premiered in 1994, and was performed annually in Madison Square Gardens until 2003. It’s a popular choice in London this year: while a concert version took place in the West End’s Lyceum Theatre on Monday, the Lost Theatre on Wandsworth Road have also chosen it as their family Christmas show.

Richard Lounds as Marley and Piers Garnham as Scrooge A Christmas Carol Lost Theatre
Richard Lounds as Marley and Piers Garnham as Scrooge

Menken is best known for his work with Disney – AladdinThe Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast to name but a few – so it’s no surprise that the score is a highlight of this almost sung-through piece. The rousing opening number sets the warm, Christmassy London scene, and is the first sign that this production is at its strongest when the whole company perform together with gusto. There are some gorgeous voices amongst the cast, including that of nine-year-old Ella Tidbury who performs with assurance beyond her years. In particular, Joe Brown (Scrooge aged 18) and Natalie Morgan (Emily) show off beautiful vocals that blend well in their brief duet.Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: 2 Become 1, King’s Head Theatre

running until 7 January

2 Become 1 at the King's Head Theatre

All credit to the cast of 2 Become 1. This show is a fun, party piece that suits an animated crowd up for a good time. On this occasion, the night after most press attended, the cast were faced with technical issues, a delayed start and a small audience. Yet Swipe Right Theatre rose to the occasion, not letting the energy slide and throwing themselves into this tongue-in-cheek musical.

The quartet all inhabit their individual characters, like a Sex and the City-style gang: the heartbroken one (Jess, played by Natasha Granger); the flirt (Charlie, played by Eliza Hewitt-Jones); the comedic hopeless romantic (Amanda, played by Jessica Brady); and the wacky one (Molly, played by Kerrie Thomason). The personalities are a little one-dimensional, but it fits well with the girlband era.Read More »

AYT: THEATRE REVIEW: Side Show, Southwark Playhouse

Originally published on A Younger Theatre

Photo: Pamela Raith
Photo: Pamela Raith

Bill Russell and Henry Krieger’s Side Show has had two Broadway outings, neither lasting long on the Great White Way; this Southwark Playhouse production marks the show’s UK premiere and brings together two of the biggest musical theatre names around in the form of Louise Dearman and Laura Pitt-Pulford.

The show follows the story of real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who became music hall and film stars in the 1920s-30s. Russell’s narrative sees them escape a seedy side-show where they are mistreated by ‘Sir’ (Chris Howell), set to a backdrop of stardom, love and scandal in New York.

On entering the auditorium, the set is bathed in a warm glow as the design by performance designer takis encompasses golden pipes and staircases that evoke the organs and carousels of a traditional fairground. Yet as the cast break out into the opening number ‘Come Look at the Freaks’, it’s clear that the mood is rather darker and harsher than it may first appear.Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: The Last Five Years, St James Theatre

running until 3 December

Jason Robert Brown’s two-hander musical is known for its unique structural twist: it’s the story of a relationship seen from both the man and woman’s perspective, but each travels a different way through their timeline, only meeting briefly in the middle for one duet (‘The Next Ten Minutes’). As Jamie travels forwards, from the first dates to the end of their marriage, Cathy travels backwards – from last goodbye to first kiss.

Samantha Barks as Cathy. Photo: Scott Rylander
Samantha Barks as Cathy. Photo: Scott Rylander

Directed by Brown himself, the production brings together experienced (yet still only 26!) musical theatre star Samantha Barks, of I’d Do Anything and Les Misérables fame, and actor Jonathan Bailey, best known for his work in straight dramas at the National Theatre and on the small screen. Read More »