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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!

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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Avenue Q, New Wimbledon Theatre – Review

The residents of Avenue Q are a somewhat peculiar pick ‘n’ mix of colourful puppets, unlikely couples and a monster or two, all sharing in dreams, concerns and uncensored humour. It’s children’s programme styling -denoted by chirpy repetitive tunes, bright colours and teaching video-esque animation screens- paired with it’s very adult content, made for an atmosphere of juxtaposition in which the very upfront nature of this shows comedy absolutely thrived. Avenue Q is able to effortlessly weave the hysterically obscene ...

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The Half Moon Shania, The Vaults – Review

Feminism and fishnets, punk and precarious friendships, The Half Moon Shania shakes the Vaults Festival in this punk/rock opera reverberating with energy and poignancy. The show evokes youthful excitement and naivety within a dark smoky world. The rush and the barely organised chaos are infectious, but there are moments that don’t quite land as effectively as the rest of the show. THE G STRINGZ are a band of three best friends trying to secure a record deal in the Half ...

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VIOLET, Charing Cross Theatre – Review

Pros: Excellent musicianship and a good range of song styles Cons: Lack of memorable tunes and a confusing storyline Calling all producers! Please stop pasting microphones to your singers’ foreheads! If you can’t hide them under their hair (although, why?) then the jawline is a far better option. Your audience is connecting to a singer’s eyes, and they don’t want to be distracted by a bundle of wiring in the middle of their face. Sorry, just had to get that ...

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Notre Dame de Paris, London Coliseum – Review

Pros: Nicely menacing Gothic atmosphere. Cons: Shallow characterisation and a complete lack of variation in tone A word of warning to anyone planning a visit to Notre Dame de Paris at London Coliseum. Brace yourself. Brace for histrionics. The breast-beating starts early, with the first big number, Les Sans-papiers, and never really lets up for the rest of the show. The understandable anguish of the outcasts, the vulnerable and the falsely accused is rendered with the same power ballad intensity ...

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