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Lee Lessack on route from NY to Paris

Lee Lessack’s From Manhattan to Paris at The Crazy Coqs, London. First of all I must declare an interest – I have been a fan of American cabaret artist Lee Lessack ever since I first saw him at the late lamented Pizza On the Park plenty of years ago and his light baritone still floats […]

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Desperately Seeking the Exit, it’s therapy

Playing at the Leicester Square Studio, London until May 20. In 2007, after much publicity, a new musical opened in the West End called Desperately Seeking Susan, scored with songs from the back catalogue of 1970s New Wave band, Blondie. Based on the movie featuring Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in her first major acting role, […]

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Bare, another stunning Union production

Bare, the Rock Musical, with music by Damon Intrabartolo and lyrics by Jon Hartmere (they also wrote the book), started out as a pop opera. It premiered in Los Angeles in 2000 and a newer version recently finished an Off-Broadway season in February. This is its professional European premiere. The show has similar themes to the […]

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Sunday in the Park With George goes home

Reviewed at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris (April 15-25). The production is being broadcast on European arts TV channel Mezzo on May 5, 24 and 28. Sunday in the Park With George is a rare jewel, a special treat, one of the rare musicals and works of art which can lift you up from the real […]

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Photo by Roy Tan

Merrily We Roll Along has a good thing going

Playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London until July 27. As a performer Maria Friedman has memorably interpreted the work of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim – she even played the lead role of Mary Flynn in the 1992 Leicester Haymarket production of Merrily We Roll Along – but there was no guarantee she would make the same impact in her directorial […]

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Pajama Game bustles with energy

Playing at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester until June 8. For the first of its two summer musicals Chichester Festival Theatre has unearthed another neglected little gem. Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ 1954 musical The Pajama Game is given a rare outing. There was a London production in 1999, this time it is director Richard Eyre’s […]

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Klea Blackhurst is welcome back any time

An Evening With Klea Blackhurst, reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. Nobody ever accused the lady of being soothing or subtle, but you get what it says on the tin with Klea Blackhurst, a disciple of the Ethel Merman school of belters for whom, in a room holding just 66 at a warmly glowing and […]

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The Universal Machine is a code hard to break

Playing at the New Diorama Theatre, London until May 11. The life of Alan Turing as explored in The Universal Machine is more full of incident than many other academics’. A philosopher and mathematician who predicted the rise of mechanical ‘thinking machines’, his work at Bletchley Park during the Second World War directly led to […]

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Rooms – A Rock Romance makes emotional impact

Playing at the Finborough Theatre, London until May 18. A boy-meets-girl-with-ambition love story set during the dying days of punk, Rooms – A Rock Romance may be billed as a rock romance but it also has some mighty power ballads at its heart. It’s fun to see Cassidy Janson’s Monica and Alexis Gerred’s Ian rocking […]

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The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes wins us over

Playing at the Hoxton Hall, London until May 10.   Since first appearing in 1887 we’ve seen a wealth of Sherlock Holmes’,
including a teenage incarnation and two bang up to date 21st century
sleuths. With their boisterous production of Leslie Bricusse’s The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes, Morphic Graffiti give us the music hall version. Bricusse’s musical […]

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Hot Stuff dazzles, sizzles and giggles

Playing at the Curve, Leicester until May 26. There is an insatiable appetite in Leicester for the rock musical Hot Stuff, an audacious, impudent, high-energy re-working of the Faust legend in which Joe Soap abandons his sweetheart, Julie, on the dance floor and sells his soul to Lucy Fur for fame and fortune as a rock singer. […]

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Pippin has razzle dazzle to believe in

Opened April 25 at The Music Box Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. ‘Give ’em the old razzle dazzle’, goes the Fred Ebb lyric in the Bob Fosse-created Chicago, the revival of which is currently bumping and grinding its way through its 17th year on Broadway. And that same razzle dazzle dictum is working […]

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Matthew James Thomas and cast in the Broadway production of Pippin. Picture: Joan Marcus

Pippin has razzle dazzle to believe in

Opened April 25 at The Music Box Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. ‘Give ’em the old razzle dazzle’, goes the Fred Ebb lyric in the Bob Fosse-created Chicago, the revival of which is currently bumping and grinding its way through its 17th year on Broadway. And that same razzle dazzle dictum is working […]

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Jekyll & Hyde – prepare for a wall of sound

Opened April 18, at the Marquis Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. Boo! Composer and occasional lyricist Frank Wildhorn, Broadway’s favourite whipping boy, has just landed another musical on Broadway. This one’s a horror story and a revival as well – Jekyll & Hyde – and of course, it has given uppity New York […]

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Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde. Picture: Chris Bennion

Jekyll & Hyde – prepare for a wall of sound

Opened April 18, at the Marquis Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. Boo! Composer and occasional lyricist Frank Wildhorn, Broadway’s favourite whipping boy, has just landed another musical on Broadway. This one’s a horror story and a revival as well – Jekyll & Hyde – and of course, it has given uppity New York […]

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Sleeping Arrangements delivers humour and romance in spades

Running at the Landor, London until May 12. It was really only a matter of time before chick-lit, or to perhaps give it its official title of light romantic comedy, began to be considered for adaptation to the stage. Admittedly Helen Fielding’s hugely popular Bridget Jones’ Diary appears to be languishing in development hell at […]

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Geek! A New Musical, predictable but charming

Running at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London until May 18. When a musical’s title fails to deliver once, it can be disappointing. Twice, and it starts to look deliberate. Geek! A New Musical is not really about geeks. And while it’s technically a new musical, it treads such familiar ground that it hardly feels original. […]

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The Three Little Pigs entertain young and old

Reviewed at the Greenwich Theatre, London. Written by the Olivier Award-winning team that bought young audiences Honk! Just So, Mary Poppins, Betty Blue Eyes and Soho Cinders, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s European premiere of the well-known children’s story The Three Little Pigs is a sweet and simple tale, complemented by a sophisticated and appealing score […]

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Liz Robertson Sings Her Favourite Songs

Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. Forty years on from making her showbiz bow as a cabaret dancer at the nearby Savoy Hotel, the ageless Liz Robertson is back in cabaret mode for her one-woman show at The Crazy Coqs, the new go-to Piccadilly nightspot for lovers of the genre which becomes ever more polished […]

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Motown the Musical proves exhilarating

Opened April 14 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. “You built a legacy of love,” Smokey Robinson tells Berry Gordy, as Motown the Musical, heads toward its big finish. The show recounts the life of Gordy, the celebrated founder and force behind the Motown record company, which broke through seemingly impenetrable […]

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Gary Williams presents a Sinatra Jukebox

Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. This programme from singer Gary Williams and accompanist Harry the Piano was an unusual evening for The Crazy Coqs. Williams gave us a tribute to Frank Sinatra, but instead of an hour of songs and anecdote, halfway through members of the audience were invited fill in request forms, which […]

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Carnaby Street the Musical is labour of love

Hackney Empire, London, then touring until June 29. Since the back catalogue of The Beatles is already being hurtled through nightly over at the Savoy Theatre for Let it Be, there are no climactic ‘na-na-nah-nahs’ – indeed the Fab Four hardly get a look in here – in Carnaby Street the Musical, a jukebox musical which […]

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Ghost the Musical begins tour

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, then touring until January 2014. Ghost the Musical is a theatrical masterclass in translating emotion, so be prepared to shed a few tears but still have a few laughs. Set in New York, the musical naturally sticks to the same story as the original film – for which the show’s lyricist/librettist […]

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Matilda the Musical Arrives on Broadway

Opened April 11 at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. Bless her little heart! And her big brain, too. Matilda the Musical has landed on Broadway in a blaze of glory. This musicalisation of novelist Roald Dahl’s dark depiction of childhood fears – and how gumption, smarts and literacy can […]

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Once

Opened 9 April at the Phoenix Theatre, London. “Hello,” Girl tentatively whispers to the piano before she starts playing it, as Guy gazes at her sheepishly before picking up his guitar to join in. “You must always say hello to the piano,” she instructs him sternly before they unite to create a wealth of raw, […]

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Kinky Boots

Opened April 4 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. La Cage Aux Folles comes to Northampton, England, a town filled with failing shoe factories, in Broadway’s new dazzler Kinky Boots. Based on a 2005 movie, the show tells how a flamboyant drag queen and her sextet of high-stepping pals of […]

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The Billie Holiday Story

Playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, London until 25 May. More than 50 years after Billie Holiday’s tragic death, her life story continues to be a subject of film and theatrical performance. Holiday’s painful life of child prostitution, sexual abuse and violent partners is interpreted by Nina Kristofferson who takes a unique approach to the […]

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The Book of Mormon

Currently running at The Prince of Wales Theatre, London. Thank God for The Book of Mormon. Not only is it performing miracles at the box office – recently breaking records by taking £2.1 million in a single day – this original musical also offers a shining beacon in a market saturated with film remakes. No […]

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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton. 11-16 March, then touring the UK until 5 January, 2014. Bringing to the stage a musical version of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was always going to be something of a risk. Priscilla is, after all, the nickname given to a second-hand bus and Stephan Elliot’s masterpiece of cinematography […]

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The Hired Man

Reviewed at Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Transfers to Curve, Leicester, 12-27 April. The Hired Man, devised by Melvyn Bragg from his 1969 book of the same name, is based on the few facts he knew about his grandfather who was born about 1890. Bragg got to know him well during the Second World War when his […]

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Quasimodo

King’s Head Theatre, London. 20 March to 13 April. Since the 19th century, the bells of the best-known cathedral in Paris have been ringing out with deafening clangs. So bad were they, that they were mocked as having deafened Quasimodo, the lead of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But on Palm […]

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A Chorus Line

Currently running at the London Palladium. A major London revival of the iconic Broadway musical that is A Chorus Line has been a long time coming for those of us who weren’t around to catch the original West End production in 1976. Sadly, as the programme credits so poignantly point out, most of the original […]

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The Tailor-Made Man

Musical Theatre Review catches up with the world premiere of The Tailor-Made Man, a new musical at London’s Arts Theatre. As the title suggests silent film actor William (Billy) Haines was a product of the Hollywood system, he was also its first openly gay star. This exuberant and entertaining musical tells of his career as […]

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Merrily We Roll Along transfers

Reviewed at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London. Merrily We Roll Along transfers to the Harold Pinter Theatre on 23 April. This has very much been a season of for first-rate revivals of second-rate Broadway musicals, and Maria Friedman’s production of the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth Merrily We Roll Along is an admirable addition to the list.  A […]

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9–5 The Musical

Touring until 27 July. Seen at Theatre Royal, Brighton. The trend for successful films to find new lives on stage continues with this hilarious transition which has music and lyrics written by Dolly Parton, one of the film’s original stars. Miss Parton also appears in the show, albeit on film, when she talks to the […]

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The Bodyguard

Currently running at the Adelphi Theatre, London. A good, solid, honest musical, The Bodyguard delivers what it says on the label, and gives its audience exactly what they come for – a live version of the popular 1992 movie. If it doesn’t do much more than that, if there’s nothing especially special about it – well, […]

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