Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Sondheim’

Review – Putting It Together, St James Theatre

Friday 24 January 2014

puttingittogetherBrave to stage the London premiere of Putting It Together just after Christmas when telly’s just served countless cobbled together compilation shows, reviews of the year and list shows. And, of course, we hold our hands up, the Whinger’s last post was listing considerably too.

Do we need another Sondheim compilation show? What could possibly be new after Side by Side by Sondheim or Sondheim on Sondheim? Perhaps in the not-too-distant future some bright spark will put together a compilation show of Sondheim compilation shows. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Candide, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 2 December 2013

0da9365bfeecf4a1a9c714ecaf59227cPhil’s 4th Candide, and if he had a better memory he would make comparisons. So a swift read up of the Whingers’ last one (at the ENO) reminded him that, in that case, it was long (3¼ hours), gimmicky and sometimes inaudible.

But that’s what can happen if you let opera companies have their wicked way with it. Thankfully this one is shorter (2 hours 40 mins), the often brilliant lyrics entirely audible and the staging traditional.

Well, one might say traditional if one were not a Whinger. The Menier’s production is off-puttingly staged in the round. But, and swallowing hard, Phil was forced reluctantly to admit that it works. Yes, occasionally there is the discomfort of a little Linda Blair-ish head swivelling to see the performers as they cavort around the auditorium (choreography Adam Cooper), but on the plus side you’re close enough to get a hooped skirt in your face and if seated in the front row may even find yourself becoming part of the show wearing a natty red titfer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Merrily We Roll Along, Menier Chocolate Factory

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Rating

Confused?

Not if you’re familiar with Merrily We Roll Along which starts in 1976 and moves back through the years to 1957 and inspired Phil to write the review in reverse.

But unlike Stephen Sondheim, his book writer George Furth or Pinter or George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart who wrote the original play on which it’s based he’s not sharp enough for that. So he’ll leave it there. Read the rest of this entry »

More Bleedin’ Hot Pies!

Sunday 1 April 2012

Some might call it poor taste. Some might call it an act of expedience before the latest VAT comes in.

We’d call it a deliciously canny and waggish merchandising ploy.

The Whingers love to fill a few minutes taking in the finest in the shops at theatres. Themed products always amuse us. Singin’ in the Rain is offering a range of branded umbrellas, Phantom of the Opera markets a magic mug which when filled with a hot drink sees the Phantom’s white mask magically appear and most musicals have the usual CDs, T-shirts and key rings you’d expect, though at least in Sweeney Todd a key is crucial to the plot.

Occasionally this is taken just that little bit further. The Menier’s Abigail’s Party is serving pre-show 70s meals including chicken Kiev and fondue (as different courses we presume). And of course the Whingers were seduced into parting with their cash last year when at Frankenstein a smoking green cocktail called The Experiment went on sale in the National’s bar.

But the Sweeney Todd people have probably come up with the best one yet. In keeping with show’s grisly cannabalistic plot the bars at the Adelphi theatre are selling “Mrs Lovett’s Bleedin’ Hot Pies”. And they do indeed bleed. Quite literally. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Adelphi Theatre

Tuesday 20 March 2012

The last time we went to the Adelphi Theatre was to see Love Never Dies. Nice to see it again, this time for a check-up of the transferred Sweeney Todd which we saw in Chichester when a transfer seemed inevitable and well-deserved.

And pretty much everything is in place just as it should be although sadly there was no sign of Andrew Lloyd Webber in the little boy’s room on this occasion. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Chichester Festival Theatre

Thursday 13 October 2011

Notes for Andrew who is due to see this within a few weeks.

Boring travel details first: We put ourselves in an upbeat mood by eating pies (inappropriately cold) as we travelled to Chichester before being thrown unceremoniously off the train at Barnham. Jolly mood quickly dissipated. Allow plenty of time to get there.

No direct trains back to London. Swathes of grumpy Sondheim aficionados cluttering the platform. Return journey: 3 and a half hours.

Do the dream team of Messrs Ball and Staunton appreciate the lengths we go to?

Director Jonathan Kent has updated Sweeney Todd‘s melodrama to 1930s. Why? It’s a piece of Victorian Grand Guignol (Music and lyrics Stephen Sondheim, book Hugh Wheeler). Updating adds nothing. Fortunately it doesn’t detract too much. Doesn’t Kent realise “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” is from a different Sondheim show? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Road Show, Menier Chocolate Factory

Friday 1 July 2011

Stephen Sondheim‘s last show (to date) has had more monikers than Puff Daddy.

This artistic enfant terrible was formerly known as Wise Guys, Gold and Bounce.

But no amount of aliases and donning of a false moustaches and dark glasses can prevent it from being recognised everywhere it goes by its giant coxcomb atop its head and the involuntary gobbling sounds, both of which announce “turkey” wherever it raises its head.

Which is now at the Menier Chocolate Factory where it gets its first airing on these shores under a musical witness protection scheme posing as Andrew’s favourite antiques TV programme Road Show.  Cue much moistness from The Stephen Sondheim Society and other liberal arts do-gooders with a touching faith in their hearts that deep down it isn’t really bad, just misunderstood. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Company, Southwark Playhouse

Saturday 19 February 2011

What with the endless 8oth birthday celebrations for Stephen Sondheim, revivals of his shows now seem almost as common as gold stars for The King’s Speech with more to come (celebrations to mark Mr Sondheim’s 81st birthday commence on 22 March).

But the latest production of Company at the Southwark Playhouse is billed as “a major new revival”. So that’s different.

The Whingers quite like Company (with a big C, not each others’ company) because it’s sharp, witty and tuneful. But having seen the Union Theatre’s excellent, but presumably only minor, revival less than two years ago we weren’t sure we were quite ready for another.

But then if we didn’t go it would always be gnawing away at us: how was “The Ladies Who Lunch”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Passion, Donmar Warehouse

Friday 17 September 2010

The scene: a luxurious apartment in BA (that’s Buenos Aries). Argentina’s foremost musical theatre actress Elena Roger is luxuriating on a chaise longue, probably eating a steak, humming a tango and idly toying with her boleadoras (That’s the sum of our knowledge about the Argentine, sorry. You’ll have to add your own colour to the picture). A telephone rings. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Into the Woods, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Wednesday 18 August 2010

There are some marriages made in heaven. Not that of the Whingers, of course. Their uneasy, warped version of wedlock is one parboiled over the flames of hell, yet still half-baked.

But whoever came up with the idea of staging Into the Woods in the gloriously seemly setting that is the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre should be appropriately ennobled. The biggest question is: why has it taken them so long?

With memories of previous years’ Hello Dolly! and Gigi still transforming the Whingers’ usual grimacing countenances into beaming smiles (despite the downpours of rain encountered on both occasions) expectations were raised to an unreasonably imprudent level. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Assassins, Union Theatre

Friday 2 July 2010

One of the troubles with longevity is a tendency towards repeating oneself. Ask Phil. And the same applies in blogging.

After four years the Whingers are now at that stage where shows are coming round again. What to do? Must we really find new gags every time someone revives something we’ve already seen? That’s going to be a challenge as we only have about six gags which are cunningly recycled.

Anyway, we did all the assassination gags when it was done at the Landor two and a half years ago.

And now (to celebrate the 80th birthday of yadda yadda yadda) Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins is revived at the Union Theatre under the direction of Michael Strassen who scored such a critical hit with his production of Sondheim’s Company at the Union a year ago.

Could lightning possibly strike twice? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Sondheim on Sondheim, Studio 54

Saturday 24 April 2010

We’re still here.

And despite our involuntary extended status as Broadway babies it wasn’t the least bit difficult to observe the embargo on this show.

Sondheim on Sondheim officially opened at Studio 54 on Thursday night.

The Bellyachers  had graced it with their presence at last Sunday’s matinee but had to keep their traps shut until yesterday. Which was a relief really as we’ve been getting way behind with our posts and just when we almost catch up we ruin it all by going to see something else. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Elaine Stritch Singin’ Sondheim. . . One Song At A Time, Café Carlyle

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Every cloud has a silver lining but the lining of the cloud of microscopic basalt ash particles emitted from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull volcano was pure gold.

For thanks to being “stranded” in new York (with Virgin Atlantic picking up their accommodation and meal costs) the Whingers found themselves invited to dine at the very posh Café Carlyle and take in the entertainment provided by someone called Elaine Stritch. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Walter Kerr Theatre

Friday 16 April 2010

Yes, A Little Night Music again, but with Catherine Zeta-Jones…

…but without Angela Lansbury.

Oh, how  we agonised over this one. To see or not to see? We’d already loved the Menier production, could  its Broadway incarnation match up? Could we ever get over the fact Ms Lansbury had decided to take her 2 week vacation just as the Whingers arrived in New York?

Well yes and no. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Anyone Can Whistle, Jermyn Street Theatre

Thursday 25 March 2010

It seems a curious choice to celebrate Stephen Sondheim‘s 8oth birthday with a Broadway show that lasted for just nine regular performances. That’s probably fewer than Too Close to the Sun (if we could be bothered to check) but if anyone wants to revive that to celebrate the Whingers’ 80th anniversary we will happily hobble along and join in the fun.

But Anyone Can Whistle is rarely revived, so why not? Why not? Read the rest of this entry »

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