Six, the wildly popular new West End musical, is currently wowing audiences at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square. Above this theatre, there is a little-known venue aptly called Above the Arts. It’s a relaxed setting with some stylish artwork, a small bar, some sofas and typically plays host to cabaret acts. On a Saturday afternoon, Amy Lovatt graced the stage with her very first concert, ‘I’d Rather Be Me’. The set opened with a playful rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls and included many musical theatre fan favourites including songs from The Last Five Years, Miss Saigon and Little Shop of Horrors.
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.
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.
A question I am often asked is “what’s your favourite musical”. My instinctive answer has always been to say Ragtime. The first time I saw it, I was completely knocked out and developed an unhealthy obsession with the original Broadway cast recording. The emotive and creative score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and book by Terrence McNally completed penetrated my thoughts and my emotions; I had never felt so moved by a show. I didn’t think it was possible for my admiration for it to grow any stronger, until I saw the recent production of Ragtime at the Charing Cross Theatre. Seeing the new and inventive staging was like watching it for the first time. By the end I was hit with the full force of why I will always think fondly of this musical as my favourite.
In the current political climate, the big topic of the day is the UK’s decision to exit the European Union, i.e. “Brexit”. This has got people across the nation talking about what lies ahead for the future of UK. But not long ago, the bigger political debate of the time concerned the UK Miners’ Strike; the standoff between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Thatcher Government in the 1980s. Such is the backdrop to Billy Elliot the Musical, adapted from the 2000 film, which focuses in on a miner’s family whose son has a passion for ballet. The show is a terrific showcase of young talent and a testament to how musicals can grapple with gritty subject matter yet remain accessible to large audiences.
Saturday 19th November 2016 marked the first night of previews for the first ever West End production of Dreamgirls. This musical follows the journey of an all female African-American singing group and their attempt to find fame in the US Music Industry during the 60s and 70s. Although I have mixed feelings about seeing preview performances, I found myself with two front row tickets for the night and could not turn down the opportunity. I was impressed by how slick the show was for its first night; the big set and costume changes went smoothly and there were no obvious mishaps. However as the show is not locked down yet, I will give my quick first thoughts now, but intend to re-visit it after the show officially opens in December.