There’s No Mystery in Murder, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Romy Foster

Northern Corner brings humour and mischief to this brand-new musical based in the fictional town of Rothersdale. It’s a quiet town where nothing ever happens, so when a local councellor is shot, the community unravels. A once peaceful town reveals all it’s dark secrets when the blame keeps shifting to nervous suspects in an attempt to find out who the murderer is.

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Kickass Divas, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Romy Foster

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.

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Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Miss-fit besties Kathy and Stella run a true crime podcast that they hope to turn into a full time job. When their favourite author is brutally murdered after a local event, they think this is the perfect opportunity to raise their profile and get the fame they know they deserve. Though they have no murder-solving skills, they’re determined to get to the bottom of her death. The musical comedy by Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones, writers of A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), is a hilarious caper that embraces the genre’s fans, life’s unexpected heroes and the quest to find yourself.

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Sister Act, Eventim Apollo

by Zahid Fayyaz

Based on the hit 1992 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, this is the latest touring incarnation of this highly entertaining musical. Originally set to star Goldberg in a reprise of the role, the cast instead has the more than able replacement of Beverley Knight. Joined by Jennifer Saunders, Lesley Joseph and Clive Rowe, this revival certainly isn’t lacking firepower in the casting department.

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The plot is a little thin, like in the film. Beverley Knight’s Deloris Van Cartier has to hide from her gangster ex-boyfriend in a convent, only to find herself connecting with the nuns living there. The show itself however has a lot of energy, with Saunders proving the crowd favourite because of her droll one-liners as the Mother Superior. Overall, the comic timing from the cast is certainly on point as well, and the set and majority of the songs are wonderful. Particular highlights are Beverly Knight and Clive Rowe when they are able to let loose during the musical numbers. It is fair to say that the crowd are having a blast throughout.

There are a couple of flaws in the show, unfortunately. Firstly, the song with Curtis and his goons working out how they want to kill Delores is extremely distasteful. Additionally, some of the off-colour jokes given to Lesley Joseph’s Sister Mary Lazarus are not particularly wise to include in this day and age. At two hours and 40 minutes long, it could also do with an edit.

However, despite these issues, the high points of the production turn the show into a highly enjoyable evening, It’s a fun musical running for the rest of the summer, and makes for great seasonal theatregoing.

Sister Act runs through 28 August then tours.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Singin’ in the Rain, New Wimbledon Theatre

by Zahid Fayyaz

This adaptation of the much-loved 1952 Gene Kelly film has had a very productive life as a stage musical, what with its catchy songs and tap dancing routines. This particular touring production by Jonathan Church previously ran in the West End and Sadler’s Wells so as expected, the dance has received a lot of attention. The lovely New Wimbledon Theatre where it’s on for this leg of the tour is one of the bigger theatres that lie outside of the West End on the edges of London.

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The Wonderful, Theatre Peckham

REVIEW: The Wonderful at Theatre Peckham celebrates diversity and spreads  festive joy

by Romy Foster

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.

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The Magician’s Elephant, Royal Shakespeare Company

Vibrant, joyous and fun' - The Magician's Elephant at RSC reviewed - Sarah  Probert - Birmingham Live

by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Everyone deserves a happy ending, and as we head towards the festive season, messages of hope and forgiveness start to provide us with a real sense of magic. This is perhaps what the RSC is tying to do with its winter production of The Magician’s Elephant, based on Kate DiCamillo’s book. A young orphan is told by a fortune teller that he will find his sister if he follows the elephant. But there has never been an elephant in Baltese…or has there?

It’s a fairly traditional arc, with our suffering hero going on a journey of discovery, helped and hindered by plenty of interesting characters. It begins with a mesmerising opening scene. A magical narrator (Amy Booth-Steel) introduces us to the town and her sleight of hand provides ripples of anticipation and excitement around the theatre.

Our hero Peter (Jack Wolfe) is excellent. Naive and curious with an excellent voice and stage presence, he is totally believable as a young boy looking to belong. The police chief (Forbes Masson) provides the comedy, while the young couple (Melissa James and Marc Antolin) guide our hero on his quest. Antolin and James are wonderful to watch. Their chemistry is genuine, but their sadness is heartbreaking; in spite of this their concern for Peter is very natural and touching. Summer Strallen plays the ‘villain’ – a spoilt, childlike countess who is incensed that the elephant’s arrival has stopped people talking about her. But the real star is of course the elephant, which is an impressive feat of stage design and incredibly realistic. The lighting works well to create a mysterious ambiance which is effective and intense.

It’s a lovely story, with simple songs that children will enjoy and a nice sprinkling of humour for the adults. Although a good production, it feels quite safe and there’s little to make it stand out from other musicals. At times it is very hard to hear some of the actors, especially those speaking quickly. There are also certain topics that make the story very dark in places and almost unsuitable for very young audience members. That said, this is still a magical production that leaves you with a fuzzy, festive feeling of joy.

The Magician’s Elephant runs through 1 January.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Tokyo Rose, Curve Leicester

Curve Theatre / Tokyo Rose

by Olivia Rose Deane

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.

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Book Review | Hamilton and Me

Olivier Winner Giles Terera to Publish Hamilton and Me: An Actor's Journal  in 2021 | Playbill

by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Audience members don’t always appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a West End or Broadway performance. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. The months spent learning lines, choreography and music, lengthy rehearsals, techs and previews are only a small part of it.

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