Posts Tagged ‘off-West End’

Review – Communicating Doors, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 12 May 2015

2970C3D50-0BFD-4B3C-3F5D1318A483AFB8In which Sir Alan Ayckbourn finds a Tardis in a hotel room where the tea-making facilities should be.

Strange one this. Communicating Doors is a “comic thriller” set in a hotel suite with a cutaway to the bathroom. It’s not often you see what the back of a bidet looks like, let alone find a broom cupboard that revolves and also turns out to be a time portal. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Carrie The Musical , Southwark Playhouse

Friday 8 May 2015

CarrieHow could we resist?

One of the most famous musical flops of all time is getting its London premiere 27 years after it first aired at the RSC’s Stratford home. Yes, Carrie The Musical. The one that moved on to Broadway, was swiftly felled and and also went down in another way; in theatrical history.

Phil saw it, so he won’t write about that experience in detail as he’s already recorded it here. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – UNWRAPPED: May Contain Strallens & Musical Nuts, Leicester Square Theatre

Wednesday 22 April 2015

359544941We must declare an interest.

UNWRAPPED: May Contain Strallens & Musical Nuts came to us not just with Strallens and nuts but contained the Whingers’ patented “Strallometer” (see below) which we created to grade any show containing one of the ubiquitous Strallen clan. It was used with our full permission and cleverly animated using technology way beyond our technical wherewithal.

For this was a one-off Sunday evening cabaret produced by Strallen père, Sandy Strallen* to show off the not inconsiderable talents of 2 of his seed (Summer and Zizi), with the “Musical Nuts” coming in the form of the Casey sisters (Natalie and Anna-Jane). One might be tempted to call them “nut Caseys”. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Sound of Music, New Wimbledon Theatre

Tuesday 31 March 2015

22695_fullIt must be a double-edged sword for actors landing the parts of Max Detweiler or Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music. On the one hand you’re no longer “resting”, on the other hand you’re saddled with the two songs that were cut when it became the classic 1965 film and you’re faced with an audience scratching their heads and muttering WTF?

Well, maybe that’s not quite true. The crowd at The New Wimbledon Theatre last night probably don’t know that expression. This elderly audience made Phil feel he was a mere slip of a lad. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Calamity Jane, New Wimbledon Theatre

Thursday 19 March 2015

nm-2BgRsWell, of course Andrew came to this one. Why wouldn’t he? It’s based on one of his favourite film musicals, which, as it happens, he muddles up with another of his favourite musicals (unless it’s at the Young Vic with Jane Horrocks), Annie Get Your Gun. But then they both feature rootin’-tootin’ cowgirls as a central character. Phil’s been know to confuse his suede-clad, fringe accessorised heroines too. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Buyer & Cellar, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 16 March 2015

buyer-and-cellar-at-the-menier-chocolate-factory-fa81fd7fbd0f45714127953e51189d31If, like us, you’re of a certain age and/or have a cultural consciousness that includes the likes of David Geffen, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Mildred Pierce, Irene Sharaff and a working knowledge of Barbra Streisand this may be the show for you.

Buyer & Cellar (incidentally yesterday’s Sunday Times crossword used the same play on the word ‘cellar’ in one of its answers. Heard publican’s role in basement bar (4, 6)* ) stars Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie as a struggling actor, Alex More, who is sacked from Disneyland for threatening to do something unspeakable with a churro to a rude child and finds employment working in Ms Streisand’s basement shopping mall. In fact he’s the only employee there, serving frozen yoghurt and selling her own extensive collection of collectables back to her as she haggles with him over the price.

Will he form a bond with her when she comes down to ‘play’ and will he ever be invited upstairs to her Malibu mansion? Sounds bizarre and crazy? It is. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Cinderella, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 10 December 2014

22614_fullOf course we were there for Sue Ellen.

Even Andrew was there for Sue Ellen. Actually that should probably just read “even Andrew was there”. You see, we’re of an age.

But if Linda Grey had not found her panto legs (she does – expect her in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester or wherever next Christmas) as a stetson-toting, hip flask-swigging Fairy Godmother there was a very strong pit crew to see her through to the finishing line. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 1 December 2014

4917-1411552965-assassinssquareGoodness. It seems only yesterday that Phil first encountered Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s (book) Assassins at the Donmar.

That yesterday turns out to be 22 years ago. In between he saw it at the Union Theatre and had somehow forgotten that he’d also seen it at the Landor (Well, he thinks he saw it at the Union, it all sounded very familiar when he reread Andrew’s review, but apparently he wasn’t with Andrew).

But it’s not just Phil that forgets things. His younger companion (no, not Andrew) for the afternoon at the Menier thought she was seeing it for the first time, until she reached the “I am going to the Lordy” song which appears quite late in this 1 hour 45 minute piece.

This being the Menier’s Christmas show expectations are really rather high, especially with Jamie Lloyd directing, Soutra Gilmour designing, a cast that includes Catherine Tate, Andy Nyman, Phil’s favourite History Boy (Jamie Parker), Mike McShane, Whinger-approved Carly (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) Bawden, Aaron Tveit (a leading man from yer actual Broadway) and above all Richard Mawbey on the curling tongs. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 8 July 2014

220x300The Whingers have something of a history with Forbidden Broadway.

They first saw it on the Broadway itself – or rather off the Broadway – in 2007 (it was already 25 years old then) as they were running out of things too see on yer actual Broadway due to a strike by Local One.

And we saw a revised version at the Menier 5 years ago when those clever people behind the show had us eating out of their hands by name-checking the Whingers in one of the songs. How we swooned.

Of course we would not get a mention now. That moment has passed, the joke has been done and our stock is depleted. But this show has sufficient allure that even Andrew brushed off his mothballs and dragged himself along for this one.

The biggest problem for Gerard Alessandrini’s send up of Broadway and West End shows – which is constantly updated according to which shows are currently running – was could it possibly live up to its previous incarnations? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – 20th Century Boy, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 25 June 2014

800x800.fitdownThere was really only one suitable person to accompany Phil to the Marc Bolan musical 20th Century Boy at the New Wimbledon Theatre (actually, Andrew was offered first dibs, but keep that to yourself) and that was one time glamster Paul. Paul’s Bolan fan credentials include a visit to the Barnes tree where the popster met an untimely end and dressing up as him for a fancy dress party to celebrate his own wedding (for the record Phil attended as Mr Spock). Read the rest of this entry »

Review – King Charles III, Almeida Theatre

Tuesday 15 April 2014

_Charles_image_260_x_356_pxNaughty Mike Bartlett.

This of course the same Mike Bartlett who once presented us with his Cock. Naturally we had a lot of fun with that title at the time and like childish schoolboys will always whip it out to play around with when the opportunity arises.

But it seems Bartlett is having even more fun with his “future history play”, King Charles III.

His playwriting credits are going to have to be very carefully organised in the future to avoid them being listed as Love, Love Love, King Charles III, Cock. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – American Psycho : A new musical thriller, Almeida Theatre

Thursday 12 December 2013

MainProductionImage_260x356Accident or design?

The words “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE” are projected across the three sides of Es Devlin’s stylish box set for American Psycho with the words “ABANDON WHO” appearing alone together on one of the sections.

Phil assumed it was a subtle joke referencing Matt Smith leaving behind his Doctor Who persona and returning to theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Aladdin with Jo Brand, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Aladdin-New-WimbledonWhat ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames apparently.

If you’ve been perturbed by recent news reports that the panto dame is on the endangered species list then head off to the New Wimbledon Theatre for a dose of Aladdin.

Even if the principal boy is no longer played by a woman, we never see a slosh scene, health and safety prevents sweets being thrown into the auditorium and the song sheet seems to be generally lost to the past there is no danger of dame-flatlining here. Tradition is kept gloriously intact with an array of outrageous costumes and wigs inhabited by the wonderful Matthew Kelly, proving that there is nothing quite like a panto dame. 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 – The Scottsboro Boys, Young Vic

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Phil is constantly surprised by life.

After experiencing his first earthquake and returning to his hotel room, he ran a forensic check on his bathroom’s grouting. How, when the whole building was quivering around him, did it survive intact without even the hint of a hairline crack? It wasn’t even flexible grouting. How do they do that?

And he shouldn’t really be surprised by the musicalisation of grim real-life events anymore but he is. After all he suffered Jean Seberg (which, if he remembers correctly  – when he saw it – opened with the actress’s body discovered in the boot of a car after her suicide and also contained the jaw-dropping moment of a chorus line of tap dancing psychiatrists) then there was the equally memorable Too Close to the Sun (the last 24 hours in the life of Earnest Hemingway before he blew his brain out). The surprise in The Scottsboro Boys, concerning nine black teenage boys, falsely accused of rape in the Alabama of 1931, isn’t so much that the event was turned into a musical, but that – unlike those others – it actually works. Read the rest of this entry »

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