Despite it’s title, Amour the musical is not a sickly-sweet French romantic musical. Nor does it have anything to do with a solitary lamppost in an abandoned street as the marketing materials may lead you to believe. It’s mostly a charming and whimsical story with a big heart. It’s not a total surprise that the limited run of this little-known story with a relatively unknown cast has been cut six weeks short. But based on the quality of the production and performances, it should have had a bit more of a fighting chance at achieving a healthy run. That’s the world of commercial musical theatre for you.
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.
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.
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.
‘So, the world’s unfair, keep it locked out there, in here it’s beautiful’. Hearing this lyric live on stage, the words rang clear in the air and carried a new meaning out of the context of the show. Heathers is pure unadulterated escapism. I was immersed in this crazy world; with its 80s fashion, bizarre expressions and heightened teen angst. By the finale, I was engrossed and didn’t want it to end. Somehow it manages to lock out the outside world and make you feel part of another reality that was, for lack of a better word, beautiful.
A feel-good classic musical with an impressive number of break-out musical moments and a vast collection of dazzling costumes. The stars of the show are the athletic ensemble dancers who make mounting this beast of a show in a perfectly synchronised fashion look effortless.
When I heard that the musical ‘The Band’s Visit’ was about an Egyptian Band’s visit to an Israeli town, I was admittedly apprehensive about how, if at all, it would handle the delicate topic of Arab-Israeli relations. I did not expect that such a beautiful story would unfold, a story which gently reminds us that despite our differences, we are all similar creatures at our core, who grapple with similar issues and who have the same desires.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a tale popularised by the 1996 Disney film, appears in a darker than expected stage adaptation in Stuttgart. With strong performances and hauntingly beautiful music, this production demonstrates that the musical theatre spirit is alive and well in Germany.
I love musical theatre overtures, I bloody love them. They just make me giddy with joy. But why don’t we have them anymore? It might have something to do with the fact that orchestras aren’t as full as they used to be, so considering they won’t be performed in their full and rich glory no one bothers? I write that as if I was alive during the golden ages of musicals. But sadly not. Their legacy largely remains through the existence of cast recordings, but essentially, with a few exceptions (including the Honeymoon in Vegas  Overture), I feel as though they are thing of the past.
Hollywood’s attempts at putting theatre related shows on screen have had varying degrees of success (Smash and Rise, yes I’m referring to you). The latest attempt to catch my attention was the 2016 film, ‘Opening Night’, which is now available to stream on Netflix.