The most wonderful thing is the return of theatre. And August has been my lucky month – as I have been able to return to both Stratford and London to enjoy all things theatre – and it has made me so incredibly happy.
In Stratford, it was the chance to see ‘The Comedy of Errors’ at the RSC’s outdoor theatre. It was an absolute joy, and the perfect way to be welcomed back to The Royal Shakespeare Company. Played completely for its joyful, slapstick comedy, the company appeared to be having the time of their lives (come rain or shine), and you cannot feel anything other than sheer happiness being in the audience. This is also a fantastic play if you are looking to dip your toe into the Shakespeare experience.
The West End was a chance to see ‘Hairspray’ – selected as I hoped I would see Michael Ball but, unfortunately he was indisposed. However, this did not take away from all the musical magic of ‘Hairspray’. The moment the first note was heard in the theatre, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Another outstanding performance from the whole company. In fact, so brilliant that there was cheering and clapping throughout – and even a standing ovation after ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’. ‘Hairspray’ has so many important messages, that are still so important today, that it is just a timeless show – and if you can see it, I would really recommend it.
So, the theatres being back has just been the most wonderful emotional rollercoaster. Let us all hope that the show goes on because, oh my goodness, I have missed it.
Theatre if one of the greatest joys for Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse and I during the festive season. However, of course, this year live theatre was not an option for us. But we wanted to support the Arts, so ‘A Christmas Carol‘ streamed by The Old Vic, seemed like a perfect opportunity.
It may not be exactly the same settling down in your own home to watch a play, however there was still some of the magic – dim the lights and create your own atmosphere.
This was a lovely adaptation of the tale – it goes at quite a pace that certainly holds the audience’s attention. This does not take away from the tale at all, but just means its focus slightly shifts. This adaptation for me, has more of a message about the saving of Ebenezer Scrooge – the man he can become and the help he can bring to so many. The message from this was perfect for 2020, and the strange year it has been.
Every member of the cast was excellent, but I did enjoy Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge. It was nice to think of Scrooge as a younger man who would have the chance to make a difference for many years to come.
If you have a chance to catch this production, please do – it is good fun and a tale that is so much part of the festive season.
Ballet and Shakespeare: what could be more perfect? Thrown in with Matthew Bourne’s skill if setting his productions in unusual settings, you have a great evening of theatre.
Bourne’s ballet is set in an aslyum, which may not be the usual setting for one of Shakespeare’s greatest love stories, but it worked. Now, I do not claim to be an expert on the deeper ideas about the interpretations but for me this was about the patients versus the establishment, and the forbidden love comes from the ‘Girls’ and ‘Boys’ being divided.
Whatever the interpretation should be, the point is the fact that this is an enjoyable production. The choreography is engaging and tells the story beautifully at every stage. There is humour, raw emotion and devastating tragedy.
The staging is simple but powerful, the stark white of the patients costumes and their ‘prison’ is a great contrast to the tale unfolding on the stage. The dark form of Tybalt casts his shadow over the lives of the patients. And a violent, heart-breaking tale unfolds.
Having seen this and ‘Sleeping Beauty’, it makes me keen to see more of Matthew Bourne’s interpretations, as he is clearly not restrained by conventions.
Have you seen any of Matthew Bourne’s productions? What are your thoughts of his style?
Regular readers will know that there is a tradition between myself and Mrs M, known as ‘Theatre Club’. Twice a year, without fail, we go to see a show in London as a birthday treat for each of us. As it was my birthday earlier in the summer, it was my turn to be taken to a surprise show.
And, Mrs M did an amazing job with her choice, as we went to see ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the Playhouse. There are so many reasons that this was a treat but mainly because I have never been to this theatre and I have never seen ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, but it has always been on the wishlist.
Wow, what a production and what a musical. It was clear before it even started that this is a musical that holds a special place in the hearts of so many muscial theatre fans. I now totally understand why; this is a show that I am not going to forget for a long time.
The songs are wonderful and I especially enjoyed hearing ‘If I was Rich Man’ performed so fabulously by Andy Nyman. The choreography was stunning, you almost wanted to join all the cast on the stage. But, for me, it is the actual tale that struck me the most. I have never seen the film or any previous production, so I wasn’t totally aux fais with the story. However, it is so emotional, the idea that the Jewish people had to fight for their traditions and culture. And, although some progress can be good, the destruction of culture and a way of life is never okay. The musical is so beautifully humourous and heart-warming that, as it reaches its conclusion, you can not help but shed a tear or two.
‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is evidence again that the most surprising subjects make the most powerful and memorable musicals. If you can find an opportunity, I would highly recommend seeing this show. Absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
Our summer trip to the RSC was to see Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse’s favourite play, ‘Measure for Measure’. A probloem play, so I am told, as it does not appear to fit perfectly into any category.
This production, by Gregory Doran, is set in early 1900s Vienn. Angelo has been left in charge of the city to deal with the brothels and low morals that the citizens appear to be demonstrating. However, is he in fact, any more morally superior than the people he is accusing?
This production was certainly played for laughs (including actors corpsing which, for me, always makes the show more enjoyable). However, what struck me through some of the action and the soliloquies is that, again, Shakespeare’s plays could have been written for the age we are living in. Are those in control really deserving? Can we believe or trust anything we are told?
As always, the production was superb. The cast engaged the audience in the tale, the set so simple but yet so versatile, and the music creating the perfect atmosphere.
Overall, a highly enjoyable, yet thought-provoking evening.
I love the opportunity to go to London and see a musical. As Miss W had mentioned that she fancied seeing ‘Six’, I jumped at the chance to plan a little trip (especially as even students I teach had been telling me ‘to see that musical about Henry VIII’s wives’).
‘Six: The Musical’ is at the Arts Theatre on the edge of Leicester Square. Quite an intimate theatre, which is perfect for this show as it is more a brilliant rock and pop concert than a traditional musical narrative. In fact, it is such a simple idea that it is incredibly effective.
The wives act out their own singing contest to allow the audience to decide who the most hard-done-by wife of Henry VIII was. Historical fact is set to amazing music to allow each wife to tell their tale, in a way that would probably suit their character if it was the modern day. The songs are catchy and the audience really does feel like it is at a rock concert.
However, what struck me the most was not just the amazing all-female production but the excellent ‘political’ statement made about ‘his-story’. All of those women are connected by Henry VIII, the man who fact brought them to hsitory. Yet they are part of ‘her-story’ and are figures in their own right, none more significant than the other but each having made their contribution. We just, unfortunately, often remember what those who write ‘his-story’ want us to remember.
This show deserves all the praise and dedicated following it has gained. And, if it is causing people to become more interested in history well, then it has done a fantastic job.
Despite my love of musicals ‘Grease’ is one that I have never seen. I’m not really sure why; after all, I was in the chorus of a school production many years ago. So, when I was given the chance to see the current touring production at Birmingham Hippodrome I thought: why not?
It really was an ‘electrifyin” production. Grease is one of those shows that has a cult following; really dedicated fans who ensure they see it every time it is on as it is a show that engulfs the audience in the nostalgia of the age of rock ‘n’ roll. As well as involving a love story which is always a popular narrative.
Let’s be honest – when the first tune is ‘Grease is the word’, you are addicted to the show. The whole performance was wonderful, high energy, colourful, and fabulous. There was even a ‘flying’ car during ‘Grease Lightin”. The whole company were great, with Dan Partridge taking on Danny Zuko and Martha Kirby playing Sandy (you would not know it is her professional debut – she WAS Sandy). However, I am not sure I have ever heard an audience get quite as excited as the moment that Peter Andre appeared as ‘Teen Angel’, a short but sweet appearance which made the audience squeal.
I really enjoyed this porduction, and the nostalgia of rock ‘n’ roll and the start of teenagers as their own group. I am not sure that the ‘love’ story is one that works for the modern age, but it is good fun and I am not sure why I have waited quite so long to see it.
In no particular order here are Theatre Mouse‘s favourite shows of 2016:
- Kinky Boots – The Musical at The Adelphi Theatre, London.
- Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
- The Merry Wives of Windsor at Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, BC.
- Sleeping Beauty at The Birmingham Hippodrome.
- Showboat at New London Theatre, London.
What adventures will Theatre Mouse have in the coming year?