When Handel wrote the Messiah in 1741, he faced fierce competition within the dwindling operagoing-market to get more bums on seats. Opera was seen as obtuse, elitist and too expensive (oh, how times have changed). Faced with this reticence, Handel wrote Messiah as an oratorio, which is similar to opera but isn’t typically staged, is written in English and focuses heavily on Christian themes – all of which were designed to broaden the appeal of his piece to the widest audience possible.
This new musical showcases the lives of five fabulous, historical women through the framework of two young people experiencing an interactive museum. The show is filled with catchy, original numbers and engaging choreography with prominent musical motifs that thread through the performance.
Track Listing Track 1: Dirty Dancing – Eleanor Bergstein (writer). Coming to the Dominion Theatre for a limited run and featuring the dialogues, songs, and choreography from the original 1987 film, this is a fan-pleasing show.
It’s opening night at Theatre Peckham and I am one of the first to see The Wonderful performed in front of a real, live audience (they only had their dress rehearsal THAT DAY). I followed the yellow brick road through the foyer to my seats and eagerly awaited this Peckham-ised twist on the lovable children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.
Burnt Lemon have taken their acclaimed 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose on the road with a retooled cast, score and book and a good deal of anticipation. The bones of this new version of the show remain the same, telling the story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American radio journalist wrongly convicted of treason in 1945. As in the original, themes include xenophobia, cultural identity, and scapegoating, all with a six-strong female cast. The show opens with the high-energy and undeniably catchy “Hello America” – attention well and truly grabbed. Unfortunately, the number also represents the pinnacle of what is otherwise a flat, one-note production. The book (by Baldwin and Yoon) is generally good, retaining some of the smart, self-referential moxie that made the show charming in 2019, but is let down by the weakness of the score.
Everyday life isn’t often a particularly generative setting for compelling storytelling, but the many hospital dramas out there show that medicine is an exception. Though they aren’t part of most people’s daily routines, they are for the nurses who work in them. Long, exhausting shifts are dictated by the rhythms of their rounds, but these are punctuated by literal life-or-death crises. Amidst the moments of high drama, there are series of small, precise actions that keep patients safe and looked after. It’s in these little moments that this physical theatre collage excels.
Heart-thumping music blaring, performers Ayden Brouwers and Lizzie Morris take the stage. As they dance towards each other, vibrant disco lights hitting their slow moving bodies, they ask “How do we look?” and “How do you look?”. It is at this point that we realise why we are here. We are here to look, and to observe. Simply through the act of being in the room with them, I am complicit in demonstrating the impact the cis gaze has on transgender bodies.
Fat Rascal Theatre Company has created magic in their gender-swapped, musical parody of Beauty and the Beast. This show offers an interesting look at the ideologies behind most classic fairy tales and quite literally turns it on its head with a sharp book, catchy score and brilliant performances.
Held holy by many musical theatre enthusiasts, Spring Awakening is about the turmoil and angst of growing up. The pain of self-discovery and the frustrations at growing up rapidly, and still being treated as a child by the adults around you, are one of its primary themes. And while The British Theatre Academy did their best to relay this to their audience, unfortunately they only remained at a surface level – it never really goes to the dark and vulnerable places that this show so desperately requires to make an impact.
It is rare that a large-scale musical can be performed to its full potential in a tiny, unventilated room above a pub, but MKEC’s latest production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee does exactly that – and then some.