Alex Hackitt-Anwyl grew up in Nuneaton and now lives in South London. FemFringe, which she founded, recently enjoyed a successful run at the Vaults Festival in Waterloo, London and will be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. We caught up for a good long chat about the show, the importance of women in the driving seats and what’s next for her.
In Come From Away, a strong cast of twelve are able to bring to life this little-known story. A story in which a small Canadian town mobilised to accommodate the thousands of people who were stranded when their planes were diverted following the 9/11 attacks. At a time of hysteria over news which aims to shock and appal, I wish there were more shows like this one which seeks to display the good which humanity can achieve.
I adored so many aspects of the Artform’s production of The Last Five Years: its intimate venue; the simple stage design; and the moving performances. In this two-person musical, we see the bittersweet rise and fall of Cathy and Jamie’s five-year relationship. It was honest, raw and heart-breaking.
There are a number of shows where despite knowing a lot about them, I’ve not yet seen them live. I could tell you all about their production history, or perform some of the numbers in a one woman show – but I couldn’t tell you what it feels like to experience it on stage, which makes my heart ache. I was inspired to write this post to let the Universe know that I’d like to see these productions at one point in my life, and if I’m able to do so, I can die happy :). So please Universe, let’s make it happen. Thanks in advance.
In Leave to Remain, I was absorbed during the first fifteen minutes and believed I was witnessing the next big thing to be produced in London. The music was sensational and combined with its unique use of movement, this captivating atmosphere was created. But in the scenes which followed, my initial impressions were proved wrong. The show played into one too many clichés and negative character stereotypes. The music and movement continued to be excellent, but the musical is ultimately let down by its book.
Hadestown. What do I say about Hadestown. It was fine. There were many enjoyable elements including Eva Noblezada’s performance as Eurydice, the choreography and seeing the dynamic theatrical staging at the Olivier (National Theatre). But beyond that, I didn’t feel like I had watched something particularly ground-breaking. Rather, it was a series of events which amounted to little for me. Since watching it live, I’ve taken a liking to the scaled back and delicate feel of the cast recording with its original company. I do wonder whether I would have preferred a stripped back production, as this project initially began.
If we cast our memories back to school, most of us can vaguely remember learning about Henry VIII. If you did, you would have most likely learnt about his six wives and that ‘divorced’, ‘beheaded’, ‘died’ poem, but not much more about them. In Six, these ladies take centre stage and we gain an insight into their multi-dimensional lives through pop contemporary music. They have these big personalities and fascinating stories to share. The result is Hamilton meets the Spice Girls. It’s fun, fresh, and one of the most original British shows I’ve seen in a while.
The West End is starting to play host to a collection of musical theatre productions which celebrate a variety of women. This includes shows such as Six, Caroline or Change, Tina Turner the Musical and the incoming productions of Waitress and 9 to 5. I least expected for this celebration to extend to the revival of the musical Company. Company, a Sondheim classic, which was originally written to centre around a male bachelor, Bobby. But in this revival, it centres around a single lady, Bobbie. And it works, brilliantly. The show, written almost 50 years ago now, provides a sophisticated insight into the modern-day woman and feels as fresh as if it was written today.
Caroline, or Change is a musical of two quite different acts. The first had enjoyable parts but felt slow and left me feeling lukewarm. It was only during the second act that it shifted up a gear and an interesting show began to reveal itself. It became about much more than just an angry black woman in a low paid job, but a multi-layered insight into the feeling of change which rippled across America in the 1960s. It’s not your average feel-good musical but one that gets the brain ticking.
Some may be worried about 2019, it might be for big reasons such as that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU but hasn’t come to an agreement on what a Trade Deal will look like. Or for smaller reasons about whether you’ll be able to maintain the list of New Year Resolutions you spent so long on refining. Although 2019 may seem bleak for some, there’s lots to look forward to in the Musical Theatre World. Now I’m living in Central London, there’s so much more that I can access and I cannot wait to do so. Here’s my top five musicals I’m looking forward to seeing in 2019.