Posted in Musings on Musicals 🎵, Theatre

My Favourite Musicals | Musings on Musicals 🎵 #1

Hello! Welcome to the first in my Musings on Musicals, this is a new post series where I will be sharing my thoughts on everything musical theatre-related. It’s basically the content I was doing before I had my year hiatus but under a flashy new name that gives it it’s own special category. To kick this new series off, I wanted to share my absolute favourite shows. And, I mean these are my all-time favourites, not just current favourites.

Now, it would be impossible for me to actually put them into a list so I’ve instead picked my top nine and put them into tiers – everyone loves a good tier ranking system don’t they? So, tier one includes my top three absolute favourite musicals but I can’t put them in a 123 order so just know that I love all three of those equally. Tier Two is the my next three favourites which although I completely adore, just don’t quite make it to tier one and again, within their tier, they aren’t in any particular order and so on. I hope this makes sense, it did in my head!

Tier One

Hamilton – Some say it’s overrated, I say we don’t talk about it enough for my liking. I really do think Hamilton is the best musical ever written. It’s achingly smart and the impact it has made, not only on theatre, but in modern pop culture is an incredible feat.

Rent – This is the musical that catapulted me from musical fan to super-fan. I think I’ll write a whole post about it when I’m feeling sentimental but the first time I encountered Rent was when I watched the film and I cried at four different moments. Rent is a total marmite show, you either love it or hate it and I completely adore it.

Les Miserables – This is another show that really got me into musicals and, well, it’s just a classic, isn’t it? This is a show that all my family love and we used to play the songs on long car journeys. For me, this show is greater than just my love of theatre, it’s also a part of my childhood and reminds me of family memories.

Tier Two

Bare: A Pop Opera – It’s the style of the music – to me more rock than “pop” – and the heartbreaking story that I really love with this one. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever related to a song from a show so much as Nadia’s A Quiet Night At Home. I wish more people knew this show because it deserves so much more love.

Come From Away – I always think of Come From Away as a musical hug. I’ve seen it twice in the West End and can’t wait to see it again once theatres reopen. I can’t help but smile listening to this amazing true story and Me and the Sky is one of my favourite songs.

Jesus Christ Superstar – I’m slightly ashamed that this is the oldest musical on this list as it’s only from 1970 but I’m usually more of a contemporary musical gal. There’s something about this show that I love though. It’s thought-provoking with amazing songs and I couldn’t tell you the amount of times we’ve watched the Glenn Carter version in my house.

Tier Three

Once On This Island – This is a really recent favourite as I only listened to it this year but it has grown so much on me from multiple listens – I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t move up a tier in time. This show is just gorgeous.

In The Heights – Weirdly, when figuring out this list, I was a bit surprised I found myself putting In The Heights this high but I can’t not put it here because it really is one of my favourites. I can’t wait for film next year so that I can rewatch the story whenever I want and more people can discover In The Heights.

The Last 5 Years – Again, I didn’t really expect to put this here and I was actually between this and Bat Boy which I’ve bumped down a tier. It’s the lyrics that I love most of all with The Last 5 Years, especially in songs like Nobody Needs To Know.

Honourable Mentions

Whistle Down the Wind – Although Whistle Down the Wind isn’t an especially high-ranking favourite for me anymore, it was my first ever favourite musical so I think it needs an honourable mention. After seeing a production as a kid I fell in love with the show and it was the first musical I bought to play on my portable CD player.

Bat Boy – As I said earlier, this show nearly made it to tier three but I’ve moved it to honourable mentions instead. I love Bat Boy and it’s my favourite funny musical.

Dear Evan Hansen – It’s here because I felt weird not putting it somewhere, I love Dear Evan Hansen and You Will Be Found is a song that easily brings a tear to my eye.

What are your favourite musicals? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Theatre

Six Reasons to See Six the Musical

The six wives of Henry VIII + sassy pop music = one of the best theatre shows in recent years… who knew?

Six may be a hit in the West End (and now over in Chicago too!) but if you’ve yet to see this amazing show about girl power and rewriting history to turn it into “herstory” (see what they did there??!), I’ve got six reasons why you need to give Six a shot.

No.1 It has an all-female cast and band

Theatre is traditionally populated with more men in the significant positions than women. A couple of months back the National Theatre came under fire for not including any plays with a female writing credit in their upcoming season. Women are so often overlooked off the stage so to see a show where ten talented and diverse women are on the stage every night is so refreshing. Henry VIII doesn’t make an appearance in the show because, for once, the story that’s being told isn’t really about him, it’s about the six fascinating and fabulous women he royally screwed over.

No.2 It’s contemporary theatre at its finest

Each queen’s song style takes inspiration from some modern-day muses, from Ariana Grande to Adele. This means that though these ladies are from Tudor England, nothing about this show feels stuck-in-the-past, in fact it’s about as contemporary a show on the West End can get. There are catchy tunes with pop and RnB vibes and you can learn a lot about history in a way that is a lot more fun than opening a textbook.

No.3 It rewrites history from the women’s points of view

The separation of Henry VIII and Catherine and Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn is one of the most significant events in English history for bringing about the English Reformation but this is a story that is always taught from a very political and *yawn* male angle. If that’s not tiresome enough, all four other wives of Henry VIII are pretty much always glossed over when this topic comes up in school. To steal a quote from Cathy Parr in Six “there’s so much more” to them than meets the eye. I could tell you all about the amazing things these queens did and their truly awful experiences during their reigns but I don’t want to spoil anything so just go and see the show, it’s all based on real fact just told in the sassiest and catchiest way possible.

No.4 It’s a new British show

Ok, I’m not trying tot get into a debate about whether new British theatre is overshadowed by the Broadway shows that have been coming over to the West End of late. I’m certainly not hating on the Broadway-to-West-End hits either, I was one of the first in the virtual line to get tickets to the likes of Hamilton, Waitress and Come From Away (all fantastic shows, I might add) but it does feel like new British shows are sometimes lost in the sea of already-popular Broadway hits. Six has managed to gain a strong following online (with one of the sweetest fanbases I think I’ve seen for anything but more on that soon) and rightfully so because it’s so damn good. The writing team behind it, Marlowe and Moss, came out of university and got a show on the West End nearly straight away, those are some top musical-writing skills right there!
No.5 Every. Single. Song. Is. A. Jam.

Who doesn’t love a sassy feminist bop? In this show there are half a dozen sassy solo bops with three pretty unique ensemble numbers thrown in as well. Sure, the show might be short with only nine shows in the whole performance but those nine songs were chosen wisely and each one serves a clear purpose (even if Haus of Holbein is a bit weird). The cast album is short and sweet and the songs sound like something you’d hear on the radio yet still have that magical musical theatre quality to them so what’s not to like?

No.6 It appreciates its alternates

The cast is terrific and if you don’t come out of the show wishing you were a part of that girl squad, you’re lying to yourself. And when I say cast, I mean the whole cast. Including the three fabulous alternates. Back when this current cast first took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe, quickly followed by its first run in London, there was one alternate, Grace Mouat, who covered every single queen. How? Some serious talent and presumably a bloody good memory. Since then, as the show’s grown so have the number of alternates. Now Grace is joined by Vicki Manser and Courtney Stapleton and for the first show where all three alternates were going to be on together, the Six Instagram shared a video hyping the audience up to see them all perform! No other shows do that! And they should! It’s created the nicest fandom in the West End. I never see any nasty tweets from people who were sad not to see the main cast because the alternates are so celebrated that audiences treat seeing the alternates like catching Pokémon – you want to see them all! That’s amazing and how I really think theatre should be.

Have I convinced you yet? Go book some tickets and listen to the songs – they’re all on Spotify waiting for you!

How can I see it?

Six is on at the Arts Theatre in London and will be going on a UK tour later this year.

There is also a production in Chicago at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Posted in Theatre

Three Mini West End Reviews: Aladdin, Wicked and Waitress

I’ve seen a few West End shows lately so I wanted to group them all into one post and natter away about them for a little bit. Wicked is the only one of these shows I’d seen before and the Waitress tickets were a birthday surprise for my sister because I am, clearly, the best sister ever.

Overall, I thought Aladdin was bright, fun and colourful. The changes they’d made from the Disney’s animated movie (side note, even though I’m a bit over the Disney live action remakes, I am quite excited about the Aladdin movie, anyone else?) made sense and for the most part worked well. There are no animals in the show but Aladdin actually gets some real friends which is good for him. The new songs are nice but it’s the ones that come from the film that really have the entertainment factor, particularly the high-energy and genuinely spectacular Friend Like Me scene. Trevor Dion Nicholas is hilarious as the Genie, his comedic timing and stage presence lights up the stage almost as much as his glittery head.

           The World New World scene was also executed nicely even if the actors did look a little scared to be floating around the stage on a “flying carpet”. The main criticism I have for the show, however, is the way they’ve worked Jafar and Iago into the stage show. As I said, there are no animals in the show so how do they get Iago in there? Well, he’s Jafar’s pretty annoying pantomime-esque sidekick. Sure, Aladdin is a pantomime classic and Jafar is widely considered to be one of Disney’s best villains but it felt a bit too over-the-top for me. I guess, maybe I’d feel different if I’d been to see the show with kids because that, for sure, would work for them. But, not for me and considering how many adults there were in the audience, it just felt a bit much.

           Stepping away from the negatives though, this show is lively and, like I said, oh so colourful and visually spectacular. Fans of Disney will love it, families will love it, everyone else will probably enjoy it too.

How can I see it?

Aladdin is showing at the Prince Edward Theatre and booking through to July 27th (it will be closing in the coming months though so if you’re keen on seeing it, make sure you get tickets soon!)

This wasn’t my first trip to the Emerald City. Seeing Wicked again was a bit of nostalgia fest since it was the first show I ever saw on the West End back in 2014 and is now the only London show I’ve seen twice (though there are quite a few I’m desperate to see again).

           Every musical fan seems to love Wicked, there’s something about it that just transports you into a magical realm where people can say slightly cringey non-words like “braverism” without anyone batting an eyelid. What I found most exciting about seeing it again was 1. Re-realising how funny it is and 2. Getting to see the amazing cast that is currently in the show. Alice Fearn as Elphaba and Sophie Evans as Glinda are brilliant and great when they perform together.

We were sat very far back right up at the top of the dress circle but you forget you’re so far back because the belting is so damn powerful and you get a great view of the random but awesome dragon at the top of the stage.

           Whether you have or haven’t seen Wicked on the West End yet, the cheap seats at the top do actually have quite a good view so I think you should treat yourself this summer if you can.

How can I see it?

Wicked is showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and booking until May 2020.

I was so excited to see Waitress and it didn’t disappoint at all. It’s funny, moving and inspiring. The cast were fantastic. Katherine McPhee had such a long applause after She Used to Be Mine and rightfully so because her performance was so heart-wrenching. She was just amazing. So were her co-stars, Laura Baldwin as Dawn (who was also fab in Eugenius last year) and Charlotte Raby (who was understudying for Marisha Wallace) as Becky. Their friendship felt real to me and it was so great to see a show so focused on women’s issues and humour relating to what it’s like being a woman. I already knew I loved the songs but I didn’t realise how much I’d love the book and choreography as well. Also, I did not know how awkward and adorable Dr Pomatter is from just the songs. David Hunter was hilarious and played the lovable doctor really well.

            I got too much merch – including a Waitress cookbook even though I rarely bake but I appreciate clever merch and I’m far too tigger-happy when it comes to buying things I don’t need so I got it – and obvs bought a pie there which came in a cute little jar.

            Everything about this show was brilliant, I feel like I was grinning the whole way through. I’d recommend it to everyone I know. I feel like I’m probably as enthusiastic about this show as Ogie is about Dawn… maybe… if that’s even possible. Just, if you can, go and see it. It makes for a great feel-good evening.

How can I see it?

Waitress is showing at the Adelphi Theatre and booking through to October 19th. Go see it!

Let me know if you’ve seen any great shows lately. I already have a long list of shows to see but I’m constantly extending it anyway so feel free to give me recommendations! 😀