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Category Archives: London

Listening to: “Betty Blue Eyes” – Cameron Mackintosh’s New Musical

Betty Blue Eyes, Cameron Mackintosh’s newest musical, just started previews in London last week. Now you’ll get a chance to hear the music from one of London’s newest musicals.

Here is a brief synopsis from their website:

Belts are being tightened and the country’s long-suffering citizens are being told by the government that there will be fair shares for all in return for surviving Austerity Britain. Meanwhile local officials feather their own nests by taking far more than their own fair share. It is of course 1947, and having won the war Britain seems to have lost the peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment and the coldest winter for decades. The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Twenty six years ago Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray wove this story into a hilariously funny but sharply observed comic film called A Private Function, which centered around Betty, an adorable pig, who is being illegally reared to ensure the local dignitaries can celebrate the Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet while the local population make do with Spam.

Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman have brilliantly adapted and expanded this story for the stage and George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have written a deliciously infectious, toe-tapping, retro contemporary score. The result is an utterly British musical, full of eccentric characters, such as the strange odd couple, Gilbert – an evangelistic chiropodist, and Joyce – a nobody determined to be somebody; Inspector Wormold – an obsessive destroyer of illegal meat; Mother Dear -’She’s seventy four and ravenous’; along with a weird assortment of bullies, spivs and snobs and of course, our star, Betty the pig.

With a simply marvellous cast of great British actors headed by Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith, Betty Blue Eyes is like no musical you will have ever seen -but she is worth saving up for!

Betty Blue Eyes‘ Official Website

Here’s a few reviews: (2 different opinions)

Betty Blue Eyes – Thoughts On The First Preview – 19th March 2011 – “So yes, it’s decent, and in a very good shape for a first preview of a brand new musical – but nothing made me want to rush to buy tickets for another performance in the future. Agreeable, but average. And with the 3 person standing ovation that I saw from where I was sitting (row F of the stalls), I think the rest of the audience may have agreed with me.”

Betty Blue Eyes Review – “Betty Blue Eyes is a show that, in my opinion, is just going to get better and better as previews progress. I highly recommend checking out this brilliant new musical. I’m already thinking about revisiting it myself!”

Promo cast recording track listings:

1. “Betty Blue Eyes”

2. “Magic Fingers”

3. “Nobody”

4. “Painting By Heart”

5. “Dance At the Primrose Ballroom”

6. “The Kind of Man I Am”

7. “Another Little Victory”

8. “Goodbye Austerity Britain”

9. “Betty Swings Demo” – BONUS TRACK

www.bettyblueeyesthemusical.com

Facebook/Twitter/YouTube @bettythemusical

Here’s what people are saying on Twitter:

@dannylane94: “Seriously cannot rave about BETTY BLUE EYES(@bettythemusical) enough. Just absolute musical theatre perfection. Go see it….NOW!”

@AtTheMusicals: “Loved Betty Blue Eyes! Haven’t laughed like that at the theatre for a while!”

@SusanM2010: “Thoroughly enjoyed Betty Blue Eyes. Lovely to see such a thoroughly British new musical. And you have to love Alan Bennett anyway.”

@Girlfromhandbag: “‘Betty Blue Eyes‘ was brilliant and @RealReeceShears was very good- Go see!”

@GrahamLappin: “Betty Blue Eyes is just brilliant – so please go. Nuff said.”

@Clairetrillwood: “Styles and Drew are a great duo but having just heard the title track im still not convinced by Betty Blue Eyes”

@Amyip: “Saw Betty Blue Eyes on Friday night. Felt that the banquet scene was not as good as A Simple Fork Supper @JohnFinnemore

 
 

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Theatre Review: “Love Never Dies” @ Aldephi Theatre, London, 01/03/11

Musical

It’s interesting to think that Love Never Dies was one of my favorite shows that I saw last year (read the full review, here). I kept an open mind (even though the generally negative reviews were quite passionate when it opened almost a year ago) and thoroughly enjoyed myself when I saw the production in June 2010. The melodramatic story, sweeping sets and costumes, beautiful singing by Ramin Karimloo (Phantom) and Sierra Boggess (Christine) combined with cinema-esque type direction neared breathtaking and it kept my attention the entire production.

Then, in November 2010, Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to re-write the material, songs and plot. The show was closed for 3-4 days at the end of November and a new re-worked Love Never Dies opened. (The media was even asked back to review the updated show.) I thought these changes would tighten the material and give the added edge that Love Never Dies needed to be successful as it’s own entity.

Instead, Andrew Lloyd Webber whored himself out and gave in to the reviews, critics and “Phantom purists” and created a slow-paced monster of a musical. If you thought the show was slow before, then think again. (The bloggers, West End Whingers, did dubb the show as “Paint Never Dries” last February.) The first act is now painstakingly slow, almost to the point of unbearable. The pacing was dismal, right after the Phantoms’ beautiful opening number, “Til’ I Hear You Sing”. From then on, it felt like a drawn-out, anti-climatic 40-minute scene until the organ startled the audience and woke everyone up when it played, “The Beauty Underneath” toward the end of the first act. I probably would have left the theatre at intermission if I wasn’t interested to see what mess Webber incurred on the second act as well.

The second act’s pace was better. I felt more connected to the overall material – no where near the same amount as I did back in June, but at least I didn’t want to fall asleep. There were less changes throughout the second act, and the overall material/plot/music was the same.

There was one clever change that I did like. At the very beginning, during the overture, Webber instituted some projections that tied the end of Phantom of the Opera to Love Never Dies. It was quick and when the curtain came up on the Phantom, we knew exactly what was happening.

But then here comes all of the problems — Webber decided that he needed to get rid of the mystery to “clarify” the story. Everything is literally spelled out to us in the new changes. There’s no mystery or seduction. Webber even reintroduces several motifs from Phantom of the Opera back into the orchestrations of Love Never Dies. All of this doesn’t help the story, it just makes you want to see the original and not the sequel.

I kept on telling people that Love Never Dies stood on it’s own and while it was a sequel, you didn’t need to see Phantom of the Opera to enjoy Love Never Dies. With the new changes, Webber continually goes back to Phantom of the Opera and truly makes this a sappy sequel — yes the story/plot line is clearer in this new adaptation, but let’s be honest: the story wasn’t that great to begin with. It was better when it was a fast-paced spectacle with beautiful melodic arias and sets. At least the audience could appreciate all of that.

Webber also changed the central characters in the plot — Meg used to be one of the main characters, now she’s just a sideline. Her breakdown at the end of Act 2 doesn’t make any sense, nor is their any redemption or understanding on why she accidentally kills Christine in the end. She literally just runs off the stage. There’s more focus on the Christine/Raoul/Phantom love triangle, but it comes up short because none of the characters are even remotely likable. Christine is going to commit adultery with the Phantom, Raoul is a drunk/gambler who is mean to his child, Gustave, and the Phantom is a miserable human being who has obsessed over Christine for ten years — talk about creepy. Not one of them has any human qualities that the audience can like. Before, the mystery of each character’s story kept you engaged and intrigued. Now, it’s boring and predictable.

I never thought, in a million years, that Andrew Lloyd Webber would “sell-out” and change his artistic vision so much that it would be an absolute detriment to his own show. If anything, I thought the show would be tighter, more of a spectacle and in turn, that more engaging. I’m embarrassed that I took 4o people with me to see this show because not one of them loved it. I was mortified that I had suggested that we see Love Never Dies after seeing it a second time round — my reputation for promoting good theatre was majorly at stake.

So let me say this: Love Never Dies was a good show before Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to change it. It wasn’t the best show I’ve ever seen, but it was a beautiful spectacle, worth your hard-earned money. Now, Love Never Dies is a major train wreck!

The only thing that remotely saves this show from being one of the worst productions I’ve ever seen is Ramin Karimloo’s performance as Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine. They are both wonderful performers, incredible singers and truly beautiful on stage. Kudos for them for sticking with it and trying to create characters and sub-plots where there are none. I can’t wait to see either one of them in a different show in the future.

 
 

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Top 10 Best Plays/Musicals of 2010

Disclaimer: I didn’t see every play and musical in the Bay Area or on Broadway, so unfortunately this isn’t a comprehensive list. I did see over 60 productions this year and saw a wide variety of plays and musicals at most of the Bay Area Theatre companies and several in Las Vegas, London and New York City.

There are still a few main companies that I’m missing in the Bay Area, but planning on reviewing next year (most notably, ACT in San Francisco). I’m excluding two productions that I was a part of: RENT at City Lights Theatre Company and Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Bus Barn Stage Company — they were both fantastic productions, but would be totally biased if included.

These 10 plays/musicals were my favorite productions that I saw in 2010. (You can see the list of all of the shows I saw, here.)  The Bay Area has had many success stories this past year, from Theatrework’s production of Memphis that won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Berkeley Rep transferring Green Day’s American Idiot (which also won two Tony Awards). The Bay Area Theatre community is definitely representing well but here’s a list of my favorites of 2010 that includes the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York City and London!

Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! I’m hearing that some of my favorite shows are going to be produced right here in the Bay Area.

Number 10:

Rain at Broadway San Jose: Broadway San Jose has brought a lot of fun productions this year to San Jose. They started off the year with the super high-spirited shows, Avenue Q and Legally Blonde. In September, their second season started off with a bang, with the sizzling show, Burn the Floor (which I surprisingly loved). But, my favorite, so far this year, was Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles. I said in my review, “Rain: A Tribue to the Beatles does an incredible job of grabbing everyone’s attention and giving them a show that’s instantly likable at any age.”

I had more fun at this performance, (which technically seemed more like a concert than a “musical”) than I ever expected to have, plus I was able to hear some of my favorite Beatles’ songs performed live. 100% recommended.

Read the full review, here.

Number 9:

In the Heights at Curran Theatre (SHNSF – touring production): Out of all of the touring productions that SHNSF brought to San Francisco, In the Heights was by far the best one. There was Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein (which I missed), Beauty and the Beast, West Side StoryShrek and of course, the San Francisco cast of Wicked which sadly closed at the beginning of September. Here’s an excerpt of my review of In the Heights:

I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre. I might just have to go back and see this again. It’s that good.

I’m sad that In the Heights is closing on Broadway in January, but happy I had the experience of seeing this incredible show.

Read the full review, here.

Number 8:

Ain’t Misbehavin’ at San Jose Repertory Theatre: For my first introduction to this fantastic show, San Jose Rep’s production was Broadway-caliber. I thought the performers were incredibly talented and the overall production was one of the best shows I’ve seen at SJ Rep. I really enjoyed several productions at SJ Rep this year and Black Pearl Sings was another favorite, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ had an energy that was totally infectious.

I think the entire audience was ready to dance and clap at the end because all of us leapt to our feet during the closing song!

I couldn’t be more thrilled that this was my first introduction to Ain’t Misbehavin’! It’s a perfect treat!

Read the full review, here.

Number 7:

San Francisco SymphonyAudra McDonald & Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook: San Francisco Symphony is creative and innovative with their programming choices. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two programs that I saw at SF Symphony this year, because they were excellent. Audra McDonald’s performance was genius (per usual). McDonald’s voice accompanied by the SF Symphony was absolutely breathtaking. This is a night I won’t soon forget. The other show I saw was Duncan Sheik’s symphonic arrangement of his newest musical, Whisper House. The beautiful arrangements added so much texture and layers to his already haunting score. I just wished it was a longer concert. (It was great to see Duncan Sheik in concert while I was visiting Glasgow.) Well done SF Symphony.

Read the full review of Audra McDonald, here.

Read the full review of Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook, here.

Number 6:

Musical Love Never Dies at Aldephi Theatre (London): With all of the negative press that has been surrounded by Love Never Dies I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I’ve never been too partial to Phantom of the Opera (though I do love the shortened Vegas production), but I was absolutely intrigued by the beautiful set, costumes and world that Andrew Lloyd Weber has created at the Aldephi Theatre. I was enraptured the entire time (and I had the worst seats ever). I’m seeing this production again on New Year’s Day and am looking forward to seeing the changes that they have made to the plot/story-line, but  the melodramatic story accompanied the music perfectly. It’s a spectacle and one that you shouldn’t miss. It was my favorite show I saw in London.

Read the full review, here.

Number 5:

Jersey Boys at The Palazzo (Las Vegas): For some reason, I avoided Jersey Boys like it was the plague. I had no interest in seeing this musical, even though it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. But on my Las Vegas Broadway Vacation, I saw The Lion King, Phantom and Jersey Boys and both the missus and I absolutely loved Jersey Boys. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys is so engaging that even someone who has never cared to acquaint themselves with the music and story of The Four Seasons (like myself) cannot escape being sucked into this world.

Read the full review, here.

Number 4:

Compulsion at Berkeley Rep: This particular play will be in New York City (with the same cast) in the Spring and you won’t want to miss this heart-breaking play. The interweaving of puppets, matched with Mandy Patinkin’s intensity makes this play one of the best things I saw this year!

Berkeley Rep is known for producing first-rate theatre, but out of everything that I saw this year at Berkeley Rep, Compulsion was the best. It’s remarkable.

Read the full review, here.

Number 3:

Tie between American Idiot and Next to Normal on Broadway: The reasons behind the tie is that I have seen both of these productions before. I saw American Idiot four times at Berkeley Rep and Next to Normal four times on Broadway (all with Alice Ripley). This was the first time I saw American Idiot on Broadway and the first time I saw Next to Normal without Alice Ripley. Out of all of the new shows I saw on Broadway that weekend, these two shows still resonated with me the most.

I can’t get enough of either show. I rarely see a show multiple times, and both of these shows I have now seen five times. If you haven’t seen either, than I suggest running to theatre and grabbing tickets! I’ll be seeing both of these shows in the new year – American Idiot again on Broadway with Billie Jo Armstrong as St. Jimmy and Next to Normal on tour in San Francisco with Alice Ripley.

Read the full review of American Idiot, here.

Number 2:

Broadway Cast Poster Closing night of Finian’s Rainbow at St. James Theatre: On a whim, I saw the closing night of Finian’s Rainbow. It was one of the most emotional nights of theatre I have ever witnessed. Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Song after song, scene after scene, it just kept getting better and better. It ended with a beautiful rainbow as they sung, “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” The audience leapt to their feet, tears in their eyes and gave a rousing standing ovation unlike any standing ovation I’ve ever seen in theatre. What a special show, night and cast.

It’s truly a travesty that this show closed so early, but it’s a gift that will never be forgotten. The magic of the rainbow is far but over.

Read the full review of Finian’s Rainbow, here.

Number 1:

Whisper House at Old Globe Theatre (San Diego): This is a musical that has stayed with me all year. Time after time, I’m thinking about this show, listening to the music and recounting the experience to friends and family. “Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s new musical, Whisper House, carefully crafts a new style of story-telling that is powerful, unique and riveting.” I love that Sheik and Jarrow upset the “standard musical comedy” with a different way to present a musical. It tells me that there is a future in this craft and that people are still willing to make huge strides in storytelling in musical theatre instead of adapting movies into musicals (over and over).

I absolutely loved Whisper House and I will go and see it anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Read the full review of Whisper House, here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

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Listening to “WolfBoy” – London Cast EP

A dark and disturbing tale of two troubled teenage boys locked in an asylum for their own good. Bernie has attempted suicide; David may or may not have the powers of a wolf. For them the outside world is a frightening place of abuse and violence. Bernie’s brother Christian and Cherry the young nurse on the unit, also hide secrets that surface in the night, when the moon is full.

Wolfboy premiered at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in 2009. It just played at Trafalgar Studios 2 this past July in London.

Check out some great photos on Flickr.

Though, this EP isn’t the best recording quality, it definitely is interesting enough that I would be interested in hearing more about this particular musical in the future.

PARENTAL ADVISORY ON THE LYRICS

Buy the EP here.

Listen below:

“The Visit”

“One Wall Away From Your Dreams”

“Come Home”

 

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Duncan Sheik @ City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, 06/21/10

I found out through Facebook that Duncan Sheik jumped on as an opener for Suzanne Vega and they were performing in Glasgow while we were in Scotland. So I booked my tickets and headed from Edinburgh to Glasgow on the train (which was super easy and relatively cheap for not planning ahead). We spent the day sight-seeing in Glasgow and then that evening we walked to the Merchant City area, had a great dinner and then we were off to see the show.

If you ever get a chance to see a show at City Hall in Glasgow, then you should jump on the chance. It’s a wonderful venue – great seats, wonderful acoustics and a very cool vibe. Alone, Duncan Sheik came out with his guitar and introduced himself. He then started to talk about “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” – his first song he played – and downplaying the fact that he wrote a little show that was on Broadway and the West End called Spring Awakening. I think there were a total of 3 people in the audience that had heard of the show – me, the missus and someone on house right who yelped a little. It’s so awesome to see a composer actually perform his work. There’s a fiercer commitment to the music that usually isn’t seen when someone else sings it. There’s a sense of ownership that was present in the song that was completely engaging.

Sheik goes on to explain, “So before I was a musical theatre composer, I wrote pop songs for evil corporations. My first example of my indentured servitude is called, “Barely Breathing.”‘ And there it was – my 90’s dream come true. I finally got a chance to hear Sheik perform “Barely Breathing.” I think that Sheik’s first album was one of my first CD’s that I bought as a teenager. I wore that song out on so many mix-tapes it was ridiculous. Finally, almost 15 years later, I got to hear it live.

I really think that it was the first time that many of these Glaswegians had heard of Duncan Sheik. It was an older crowd (they were coming to see Suzanne Vega after all) and I think they just missed his 90’s debut and subsequent writing for theatre. But, Sheik let the audience into what he was working on and talked to us about his songs and the reasoning why he wrote some of them. I found his story about why he wrote “The Tale of Solomon Snell” for his new musical, Whisper House super intriguing.

“I went down to Charleston, South Carolina to do some research for the show because Charleston has a lot of ‘ghost lore’ associated with the town. So, I went on one of these tours of haunted Charleston that take to you various places and tell you these ghost stories — and it’s very cheesy, kinda stupid — but the last place that they took me to was a cemetery where the buried a lot of people during an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Charleston. I guess when the outbreak happened, they would try to get the people in the ground really quick so the disease wouldn’t spread. And, I guess, sometimes they would bury people rather too quickly and when they had to exhume the grave, for whatever reason, they would see fingernail scratches on the top of the coffin. It was terrible. So they instituted a practice of tying a string to the finger of the supposedly deceased that would go through the coffin up through the six feet of ground and it would be attached to a bell. The idea being that if the person would miraculously revive, they would freak out and ring the bell — someone would then hear them and all would be well, I suppose.” He continues, “I’m not sure if it ever actually worked but it did give me the material for this next song. It’s a cautionary tale — the moral of which is: no matter what you do, you’re never really safe.” And then Sheik performed “The Tale of Solomon Snell” from Whisper House.

And it was brilliant. But, I’m totally impartial as I’m in love with the musical, Whisper House.

The first song was about suicide, the second – asphyxiation of various kinds and the third was about death. “But it’s cool, we’re in Glasgow,” Sheik added. He lightened the mood with “For You” from his fourth CD, Daylight. I wasn’t familiar with this song, but I’ve already downloaded it. (Check out the Jamie Myerson remix – very cool!)

Sheik then announced his new album that will be coming out this fall which will be an album of cover songs from the 80’s — think Tears for Fears, Talk Talk, and even Depeche Mode. When he said, Depeche Mode, I almost lost it. Duncan Sheik + Depeche Mode = Perfection. Depeche Mode is my all-time favorite band. He sang, “Stripped” which was the first single from Depeche Mode’s 1986 album Black Celebration. I can’t wait to see what he does with it in the studio, because it was fantastic live. I talked to Sheik after and he hopes to have the CD done for his upcoming tour with Howard Jones: The 2010 UK Acoustic Tour. Hopefully that means there will be a digital release in the US at the beginning of September/October. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Next, he played “Such Reveries”, again from his fourth album, Daylight. Sheik sings, “All of these things, all of these things are just reveries… I don’t even know you, it never happened, just dreams in slow motion, they never happened.” A heart-breaking tale that shows us how we can get lost in our dreams — stuck in sleep. He finished the evening off with a Radiohead cover, “Fake Plastic Trees”.

I think one of the most impressive things about the evening was the fact that Sheik is such an accomplished guitar player. He’s excellent and it’s very noticeable. I’m gushing over only six songs, but it really was a great evening. It was so nice to see Sheik in his element and able to talk to the audience (at the SF Symphony he wasn’t really “aloud” to talk to the audience, though I could tell he wanted to). Also, it was great to be in an audience, knowing that you were one of the few people that knew and understood the “awesomeness” that was happening on stage.

Afterwards, Sheik came out to greet the audience in between his and Susanne Vega’s set. Only a few people went up to him and talked to him, so the missus and I got a chance to have a lengthy conversation with him. We found out that Kate Whoriskey, the Artistic Director of Intiman Theatre in Seattle (also directed The Miracle Worker on Broadway this last season) will be directing Whisper House this spring as a part of their 2011 Season. I’ll definitely be taking a road trip to Seattle this Spring, as it’s the missus’ favorite musical. Also, right after his tour with Howard Jones, Sheik is jumping into writing the 80’s inspired American Pyscho musical — looking forward to that.

It was so wonderful to meet Duncan Sheik and in a way that we could actually talk and not just get an autograph from him. It really was one of the highlights of my trip!

Spencer and Duncan Sheik at City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland

Listen to “For You”

 

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Theatre Review: “Love Never Dies” @ Adelphi Theatre, London 06/26/10

Musical

Love Never Dies is a triumph!

From the first time the curtain raises onto the eerie vacant, never-ending Coney Island boardwalk to the Phantom’s lair, The Aerie, the incredible set design by Bob Crowley achieves epic greatness. The way he infuses the video clips over the scrim during the scene changes, Love Never Dies graces the edge of cinema while still being completely theatrical. In the same fashion of The Phantom of the Opera, Crowley was able to create a world within a world (real world vs. the Phantom’s world) that doesn’t overdo the bursting melodramatic sentiment of the story and music. It’s seamless and simply stunning.

The story based off of the novella, The Phantom of Manhattan, seems hokey and cheesy and yet it isn’t. It’s definitely melodramatic, but we all knew that it was going to be when we bought our tickets. An anonymous benefactor (the Phantom) invites Christine to Coney Island to perform a new aria, “Love Never Dies” at Phantasma. She agrees and takes Raoul, her husband and her child, Gustave (the only new principal character introduced in Love Never Dies) to Coney Island. Once there, she finds out that it was the Phantom that invited her and once again, she’s overtaken by his music. Also, Gustave is curiously interested in the Phantom’s lair and it becomes obvious in “The Beauty Underneath” (one of my favorite numbers of the night) that Gustave is really the Phantom’s child. And, from there, Raoul, Meg Giry and Madame Giry work through depression, jealousy and resentment, while Christine is rediscovering her feelings for the Phantom.

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music and Glenn Slater’s lyrics were perfectly crafted to evoke the exact moods of the story. From the boisterous company number, “Heaven by the Sea” introducing Coney Island to the beautiful yearning of “Til I Hear You Sing” sung by the Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) to the electric duet between Gustave and Phantom in “The Beauty Underneath”, there never was a dull moment in the score. It absolutely came to a climax when Christine (Sierra Boggess) sang her beautiful heart-felt aria, “Love Never Dies” at the end of Act 2. Most of the evening I had chills – a complete rarity. Both Karmiloo and Boggess were fantastic throughout the entire night – every note and glance perfected. Gustave (there are seven of them) was extraordinary for such a young performer!

What surprised me the most was the fact I never was bored. The story intrigued me so much that I was on the edge of my seat most of the evening. I was swept away by the lush orchestral arrangements and theatricality of the production. Everything seemed to fit so well together. I’m sure there have been major and minor revisions since starting previews back in February. The current product is a beautiful production that should not be missed.

I love the fact that Andrew Lloyd Weber lets us fall in love with Christine and the Phantom all over again in a way that doesn’t tarnish the original. Love Never Dies triumphs over bad press, the “musical sequel” land of doom (like Grease 2 and Annie 2) and the very vocal naysayers (Love Should Die) with such grace that I’m actually embarrassed for them. Broadway should open their arms to Love Never Dies and embrace it!

If you loved Phantom of the Opera, I promise you’ll fall in love all over again with Love Never Dies.

 

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Photos from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre

Even though I didn’t really care for Paradise Found, (see full review here) I was really excited that I had the opportunity to check out the Menier Chocolate Factory. It was such a fun, intimate venue! Plus, so many wonderful shows have come out of that theatre in the last couple of years – La Cage Aux Folles, A Little Night Music and Sweet Charity to name just a few. Here’s a few pictures of the theatre from the outside and one of a signed La Cage Aux Folles poster.

Enjoy!

The outside of the Menier Chocolate Factory

The poster of “Paradise Found”

More outside pictures!

The La Cage Aux Folles poster featuring Tony Award winner, Douglas Hodge

Loved seeing this rehearsal note for Menier Chocolate Factory’s next production of Aspects of Love

 
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Posted by on 07/05/2010 in Broadway, London, News

 

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