Posts tagged Theatre review
Posts tagged Theatre review
Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has landed in Auckland. This Tony Award winning musical is currently running at The Civic Theatre and is a must see.
I was so excited about watching this show not only as a fan of the music but also as it’s such a hugely acclaimed production. One of the reasons Jersey Boys has been so successful was the lack of general knowledge around the group, and their lives, so it is a fresh tale for all, as well as having the authenticity of a real story with all the twists and turns that life brings.
The story is dramatised through a documentary style of character narration, and of course their well-known hits, from the formation, rise and indeed fall of the original four members of The Four Seasons - Tommy DeVito (Anthony Harkin), Bob Gaudi (Declan Egan), Nick Massi (Glaston Toft) and Frankie Valli (in this performance played by Graham Foote).
The show kicks off with New Zealand’s own Vince Harder performing “Ces soirées-là” the adapted French Version of ‘Oh What a Night’ released in 2000, which became one of France’s bestselling singles of all time.
Our first narrator for the night is Tommy DeVito (Anthony Harkin) and he is a loveable Jersey bad boy who discovers Frankie and takes him under his wing beginning the Jersey Boys journey. Each of the members of the group gets their turn to narrate and all add their own perspective and personality in to the piece. I definitely had a soft spot for Tommy , the man who Nick Massi later refers to as ‘not properly socialised’, Anthony’s performance is fantastic and full of energy and emotion.
This show is incredibly funny and quick witted and the colourful language aids this but is never offensive or gratuitous. Some other adult themes are shown which is why this show is advised for 12 years and over. There are some great comedy moments from producer Bob Crew, played by Michael Griffiths, and many quotable one liners too.
Glaston Toft, Graham Foote, Declan Egan and Anthony Harkin
The hits are used to both experience a live Four Seasons performance and to help narrate and express the emotions of the story, which was especially notable for ‘My Eyes Adored You’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’. You will be in awe of how many great songs these guys had and all the big hits feature including; ‘Who Loves You’ ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ ‘Sherry’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to name a few.
The first thing you will notice off stage is the audience will sing, clap and foot tap throughout the show, in fact I dare you not to. If you think you don’t know the music of the Four Seasons then this show will prove you wrong. This show is also a great one for people who may not normally go to the theatre.
The pace of the show is phenomenal and is made possible by the simple, but effective set. The clever scene changes are so smooth and swift that you are never distracted from the action, as they are done while the spotlight is on the character narrating. I loved the use of big bright signs and large pop art screens as the changing backdrop of the set.
My favourite set changes where when we were transported to the Four Seasons live gigs or Television performances, it’s just amazing how much atmosphere they can create resulting in woops and cheers from the audience. The dance routines were spot on and perfectly synced.
Declan Egan, Graham Foote, Anthony Harkin and Glaston Toft
Of course I must mention the singing. There is not enough praise for how great these guys are as performers. Graham Foote as Frankie did an extraordinary job throughout and especially in the second half where he has number after number and all note perfect, not to mention his perfect mimicry of Frankie’s unique voice. This is an extremely demanding show for all so the cast deserve the many rounds of applause, whistles and cheers that we gave them. You will live, breath and sing along with this story.
As I left the theatre singing and smiling I really could find no fault in this show. The fact that it’s around the true life stories of these four blue-collar men from Jersey and the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of their amazing journey to success, with authentic Jersey language too, really makes it the ‘Goodfellas’ of Musical Theatre (especially with Joe Pesci as one of its producers!).
For more information and to book tickets go to http://www.jerseyboysnz.co.nz/index.html
The Curve in Leicester was buzzing with anticipation at the opening night of 42nd Street on 6 December.
However the drama was not reserved for the stage, the irony of what occurred within the cast had created a real life version of this classic story.
The news of the leading lady Daisy Maywood falling ill was announced by director Paul Kerrson and the audience applauded that this show would go on, and go on it did.
PHOTO: Pamela Raith
This high kicking, toe tapping, glitzy musical truly brought a substantial slice of Broadway to Leicester with understudy Lucinda Lawrence taking centre stage.
Lucinda was told she would be playing Peggy Sawyer that night at 6pm, truly imitating the story of her character who gets her big break when the star, Dorothy Brock, breaks her ankle.
This hugely successful Broadway musical has been so popular that its run has already been extended until 21 January, so the pressure was really on for this opening night.
Behind the main performance area sits a live orchestra who provide the soundtrack transporting you to Broadway and the 1930’s.
This Show will exceed your expectations as the vast stage is used to its full potential as are the aisles! There are so many compliments to make about this production, the music, the lighting, the set, the spectacular costumes but it’s the performers who deserve our undeniable admiration.
PHOTO: Pamela Raith
The cast are all hugely energetic and with plenty of fantastic ‘hoofers’ , the choreography is fast and leaves you toe tapping all the way through. Not forgetting some great musical numbers, it doesn’t get better than the dazzling performance of ‘We’re In The Money’.
Francis Haugen plays an audorable Billy Lawlor, the leading tenor in ‘Pretty Lady’.
Tim Flavin is exceptionally enjoyable to watch as the director Julian Marsh who he plays with great authority.
PHOTO: Pamela Raith
Ria Jones gave a character filled performance as the Prima Donna Dorothy Brock, the original star of the show and inept dancer, gaining her plenty of laughs.
PHOTO: Donald Cooper
Obviously on this occasion Lucinda Lawrence was the star that indeed saved the show and she did a fantastic job playing Peggy Sawyer, the small town girl who gets her shot at a staring role on a Broadway Stage. Her uplifting performance was met with lots of warm applause throughout.
life had imitated art, and for the production known as the ‘Backstage Musical’ the results could not have been better from these ironic and unexpected circumstances.
Productions like the Curve’s 42nd Street are the reason we all go to and love the theatre. Lucky Leicester!
Last night I attended the Press Night at The curve for this new curve production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest directed by Michael Buffong.
If you haven’t been to the Curve it really is an impressive modern venue with huge high ceilings and comfy sofa seating dotted around the foyer for you to cosy up with a drink in between performances. The staff put on a slick affair and there was a definite buzz about this production in the foyer before the show. They adopted the latest craze of showing all the tweets with the hashtag ‘CuckoosNest’ on a screen outside the theatre, which provided some preshow amusement, nothing like seeing your name up in lights (or LCD).
The story of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is well known, originally from the novel by Ken Kesey, and later as an award winning film staring Jack Nicholson in 1975. It tells the tale of Randle Patrick McMurphy, a anti-authoritarian criminal who thinks that serving the remainder of his sentence in the comfort of a psychiatric hospital will be a breeze. What he finds is a battle of wills with Nurse Rached which not only affects his own fate but the fate of others too.
I walked in to the theatre to see a real wow factor set with ample performance space which instantly transported us to the institution that would be our home for the next few hours.
From the start of the play the stage is filled with activity and you quickly get ‘institutionalised’ into the routine of the patients in Nurse Rached ward, which is achieved quickly through the use of the props and hypnotic musak. The play is narrated by the 6’7” Chief Bromden (Thomas Renshaw), who takes us through the metaphor of the ‘combine’ and the loss of his father. The use of the Chief helps to transit through the scenes adding depth of time.
It’s not long until Randle Patrick McMurphy (Michael Beckley) bursts on to the stage, which energises and creates a conflict within the characters putting Nurse Rached’s ‘serene’ ward in to disarray. Nurse Rached’s gradual frustration with McMurphy created a truly disturbing, controlling and authoritarian character.
There are some scenes during the play that can be hard to watch, as you would expect from a story about mental illness, institutions, power, dominance and rebellion but there are also some great comedic performances, my favourite being Martini (Miltos Yerolemou).
Photo: Jonathan Keenan
I could find no fault in any of the actors as they all communicated their journey of change excellently during Mc Murphy’s stay in the ward. Notably those who hardly utter a word like Ruckley (Paul Joseph) where great to watch as events unfolded. There are various emotional land marks during the play but the development, narration and actions of Chief Bromden connect the strongest.
The audience goes through a range of emotions during the night and it does evoke discussions around mental illness, power and institutionalisation. This is challenging theatre for both the actors and audience.