It’s been a busy couple of weeks and due to some of that being reviews of shows for The Public Reviews I have not been able to fully blog but find below my reviews of Boogie Nights and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Boogie Nights was entertaining though struck me as perhaps being a little on the amateur side. It was good fun however. Chico (along with Gareth Gates and Andy Abraham – all TV talent show runners up) was in it and he has always irritated me intensely – I though perhaps he had changed, matured possibly, but alas he hadn’t. That aside though, when reviewing I can’t let my personal feelings towards an actor get in the way so I took him as he was and credit where credit is due, he can definitely dance.
It was an enjoyable evening and I probably would see it again – it was fun but it wasn’t necessarily the quality of many of the other productions I have seen. The music though is utter disco cheese – YMCA, D-I-S-C-O, Michael Jackson and Barry White so you cant fail to sing along! You can find my review in its original form here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/boogie-nights-wyvern-theatre-swindon
I was also lucky enough to review Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Bristol Hippodrome. This was fantastic. I loved it. I can see that there is a type of audience member who would not enjoy this due to the fact it is insanely camp and slightly rude but it was hilarious, colourful and absolutely made me smile from beginning to end. I wouldn’t hesitate to go to see this again. My friend and I agreed it would be the perfect show for a hen night and we also were both in need of a pick me up and this production did that, without doubt.
If you get the chance to see this I would recommend it. I know that Jason Donovan leaves soon (to be replaced by Noel Sullivan) so I can’t comment on this replacement but I did feel that Donovan – who I have seen in several roles including that of Sweeney Todd – was not as strong vocally as he has been. That said, he made a super gay man and drag queen! All the leads were very strong though and really worked. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever seen a show as flamboyant before. Do go and catch it if you can – still touring now. My original review can be seen here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert-bristol-hippodrome
I have also been to see a couple of other productions. One was a(nother) cabaret and one was an amateur production of Oklahoma!. The cabaret, named ‘Dames N Dudes’ was held at the Hippodrome Casino in London by the fabulous John Partridge. Partridge is perhaps best known for his role as Eastenders’ Christian but he has also had a successful West End career in his own right. It was clear from this cabaret that the guy is a performer. A friend described him as reminding her of the Duracell Bunny and I can’t help feeling that this was a most appropriate observation. He never stopped bouncing, dancing or gyrating. His performance was super confident and his voice was superb.
I did not know entirely what to expect when tickets were booked for this but I was definitely not disappointed. There were no ‘showstoppers’ in the sense of big musical numbers, however he performed hits from a number of other artists such as Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand. I loved his rendition of ‘My Funny Valentine’ and his ‘Feelin’ Good’ previously by Nina Simone. You can watch him perform this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKQQTrYC1Ww Apologies that the picture quality isn’t great, my phone kept trying to focus on other things! Sound quality will definitely give you some idea of this guy’s talent though!
Along with Partridge were some backing dancers (his ‘ponies’) who danced as if their lives depended on it – with Partridge joining in at regular intervals – his cracking band who played brilliantly all evening and Hayley Sanderson of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ who actually reminded me (in the nicest possible way) of Sabrina Aloueche and who backed him all the way. She also performed a couple of songs herself, one being a slightly alternative version of Del Shannon’s hit ‘Runaway’. Another surprise guest and real treat however, turned out to be Saffron of ‘Republica’ fame. Starting with ‘Ready To Go’, the audience went wild. This was a real blast from my past and I LOVED it. She was ace, and when she also performed ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ I just wanted to get to my feet and start bopping along! It was an added bonus having a chat to her about their recent tour and new single. Here is a clip of ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJmW6Of-WUE
In all another great night and the seemingly truly humble Partridge made a point of thanking everyone for turning out and appeared surprised that we had all turned out just to see him. I must say, if he does another cabaret then he need not be surprised when it sells out again as he was most entertaining with energy levels beyond normal ranges! I wanted to see A Chorus Line anyway, but now I really need to try to get there before he leaves – if Dames N Dudes is anything to go by then I cannot wait to watch him perform in that.
And finally for now, to Oklahoma!. I find it hard in a way to take myself away from the professional productions to make allowances for amateur shows but in fairness, this local show was actually pretty good. I am most familiar with this show having performed in two other versions of this musical with amateur societies, once as Ado Annie. I was impressed with the quality of the singing (I am a little biased as playing Curly was my brother) and all round cast performances. The girl playing Gertie Cummins had been called in at literally the last minute when the original one fell and sprained her ankle so could no longer perform. You would never have known, she was confident and word perfect (as far as I could tell). Laurey (played by Naomi McMurray) is always good in the leading roles with a lovely voice and the chemistry between her and Curly was plain to see. Sam Stevens as Curly was extremely strong. As my brother I would be honest if I thought he was terrible, but annoyingly he’s really good. It frustrates me as I would love to be on the West End but don’t have the voice. Sam, however, is every bit good enough but for some reason does not seem to want to do it professionally. I cannot tell you what this does to me!
I do not feel I can slate this show due to it actually being pretty good but I would have liked a little more clarity in his speech from Ali Hakim, and possibly a little more of a set, though they were able to use the minimal set to maximum benefit by including a lot of dance. Kansas City was confidently delivered and danced by Will Parker, who’s chemistry with Ado Annie and their comedy lines both came across very well. The Farmer and The Cowman is always good fun and this was no exception, they even included the full ‘ballet’ routine in this production. I find this a little long and uncomfortable but they made a valiant effort. In all this was watchable and fun and everyone tried hard to make this a good show.
I won’t bore you with any more details about the amateur shows I have seen so I will leave this here for today. I have another couple of things coming up so I will of course blog those. Thank you to all who read these and also for all of the lovely comments about my posts. I have had a few (some VERY unexpected) people come up to me and say they really enjoy what I write and this absolutely means everything to me. I’m determined to make this a success so comments are always welcome.
If anyone has any suggestions for something they would like me to write about, how I can improve things or any other comments then I would love to hear them. I’m determined to make this one of the best blogs out there for theatrical things so feedback is very useful.
Thanks again everyone, watch this space for some more posts.