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Musicals

The triple-threat of music, dance and drama and another staple of the London theatre scene. There are plenty of musicals on the West End, but it’s the Off West End where you’ll find the new stuff, so don’t be afraid to jump in!

Twelfth Night, Rose Playhouse

OVO Theatre’s Twelfth Night opens with Viola and Sebastian performing their dance double-act on a cruise ship. This scene sets up many of the themes and problems that continue throughout the show. These include raucous humour that’s like jazz hands tirelessly shaking for 95 minutes, with the plot being used as a means of taking a step towards the next laugh, the next spectacular event of debauchery. Also a lack of consistent focus; seemingly clever suggestions that subtly reveal some ...

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Better Than Sex: The Story of Mae West, Toulouse Lautrec – Review

Emily Hutt’s tell-all cabaret on the 1930’s limelight icon Mae West follows almost pedantically the chronology of her life events, to the detriment of a sought-after dramatic climax. West – embodied by the talented Bella Bevan – takes centre stage with the accompaniment of pianist Kieran Stallard, and alternates tales from her past with some of her most recognisable songs. A promising opening scene involves some of the biting one-liners that made the artist famous, smattered with sexual innuendos and ...

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Queen of the Mist, Jack Studio Theatre – Review

On the cusp of the 20th century, Anna Edson Taylor hit the headlines as the first woman to descend the Niagara Falls and survive. Trained as a physical education teacher and widowed soon after marriage, she found herself heavily indebted and resorted to the daring deed as a way to escape poverty, with a promise for future fame and recognition. Already attempted unsuccessfully by several men and women, her ride was negotiated inside a bespoke pickle barrel, made of oak ...

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Little Miss Sunshine – Review

Arcola Theatre It’s tricky to keep preconceptions at bay when you know that the plot and style of a film has been a winning combination. The 2006 film that is the basis of Little Miss Sunshine, which starred Abigail Breslin as the determined young pageant contestant, Olive, was adorned with awards. The epic plight of the Hoover family on their 500-mile journey to get Olive to her pageant in time shaped its legacy: an audacious comedy that portrayed a joyful, ...

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Liza Pulman Sings Streisand, Lyric Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue – Review

Any show suffixed with the words ‘Sings Streisand’ is always likely to fall between two stools. Is it going to be a singer performing her songs, or a tribute act trying to sound like her? Either way I sensed the performer in question might be on a loser. Liza Pulman (pronounced ‘Lyza’) manages to pull it off, but still lands somewhere between the two. A trained opera singer and member of Fascinating Aida, Liza has an impressive vocal range more ...

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Romance Romance, Above The Stag Theatre – Review

This was my first visit to Above The Stag’s latest premises, and I think it’s the slickest building they’ve inhabited to date. It’s still under railway arches with regular distracting rumbles from the trains, but there’s a large bar area to accommodate waiting audiences, and the main theatre (there’s also a studio space now) is well-designed with a nice stage;seating ratio. Having been a patron of the venue since it actually was above The Stag pub in Victoria, I’m always ...

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The Pirates of Penzance, Wilton’s Music Hall – Review

After several years of clashing diaries and missed opportunities, I finally made it to the legendary Wilton’s Music Hall in Whitechapel. John Wilton’s magnificent music hall was opened in 1859, and has survived the obligatory fire and demolition notice on several occasions since then. It eventually acquired Grade II status and reopened as a theatrical venue in 1997. We are deep in Jack the Ripper territory and a huge Victorian brass lamp announces the venue in Graces Alley. The interior ...

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Fame – The Musical, New Wimbledon Theatre – Review

In Italy, where I grew up, the TV series Fame was broadcast in the afternoon, when families would enjoy it gathered after lunch. As a young child, I wouldn’t pay much attention to the topics, but rather enjoy the musical score and, in particular the opening credits with the series’ theme song. Only recently have I been made aware of how controversial some of those topics were. For those who aren’t familiar with this 1980s cult title, Fame focuses on ...

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The Problem With Fletcher Mott, Drayton Arms Theatre – Review

There is something exhilarating about seeing a work in progress, especially when it’s from a team surely only just out of their teens!  There’s an energy created you just don’t get at normal press nights. Ok, so that’s because the place is full of friends and family along to support, but that means an excitable youthful atmosphere that is just so joyous to be part of.  Secondly, the anticipation that you might be witnessing something special that may one day ...

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Can Can, Union Theatre – Review

In late 19th century Paris, a bawdy new dance was born. The can-can grew from the seductive dances of Moulin Rouge courtesans into a high-energy show involving high kicks, splits, and exposed undergarments. Back then, you would have to go to French cabaret for the can-can. Now you can see it in railway arch in South London. Can-Can! promises fun and frivolity, and boy does it deliver. The show is a stunning, sugary confection of acrobatic feats and lavish design. ...

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