Review: Cats, London Palladium

Published in What's on Stage on October 27, 2015

Cats is back – again – with a new leading feline: Beverley Knight. Billing her as the “queen of British soul” might be overselling it, but the pop singer has successfully carved a new career for herself in big-budget musicals: she starred in The Bodyguard and then in Memphis. But can her performance as Grizabella live up to the memory of previous star-turns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical? Continue reading “Review: Cats, London Palladium”

Review: Dusty, Charing Cross Theatre

Published in What's on Stage on September 8, 2015

It may be the latest musical to open in the West End, but Dusty is already a little, well, dusty: it’s been playing in previews since May. Ominously, several directors, choreographers, and cast members have come and gone already. The positive spin on this is that it’s already exceeded its initial run; some people had to scoot for prior commitments. But, having seen this woefully misguided show, I’d bet they had other reasons for scrabbling for their contracts to see how soon they could leave… Continue reading “Review: Dusty, Charing Cross Theatre”

Kinky Boots: Is this a musical to fall head over heels for?

Published in The Independent on Sunday on August 16, 2015

The heels are six inches tall, the legs above them long, lean, and shapely, and the smiles are 100-watt. But if you think musical theatre is all tits’n’teeth, then the stars of Kinky Boots fail on one count at least… the show’s most glamorous performers are cross-dressing men. You see, Kinky Boots began life as an independent British film in 2005, based on the true story of a Northampton shoe factory saved from bankruptcy by diversifying into making sexy heels for transvestites. Continue reading “Kinky Boots: Is this a musical to fall head over heels for?”

Lee Hall and Vicky Featherstone on bringing riotous schoolgirls to the stage

Published in The Independent on Sunday on August 9, 2015

Playwright Lee Hall is best known for Billy Elliot, the inspirational, heart-warming film and musical about a boy who wants to be a ballet dancer and who overcomes the odds to achieve his dream. Now, Hall has turned his attention to the story of a Scottish Catholic schoolgirl choir, travelling to Edinburgh to compete in a singing competition. Hankies at the ready for the big emotional numbers, right? Continue reading “Lee Hall and Vicky Featherstone on bringing riotous schoolgirls to the stage”

Review: American Idiot, Arts Theatre

Published in Time Out on July 23, 2015

The Broadway musical of Green Day’s 2004 concept album ‘American Idiot’ has finally arrived in the West End, in a low-key production starring X-Factor reject Amelia Lily. Those words will be enough to sell or put you off the show, but even as someone who spent her formative years in earnest singalongs of ‘Good Riddance’, there’s no nostalgia powerful enough to get me on board. Continue reading “Review: American Idiot, Arts Theatre”

Can Bend It Like Beckham succeed in the West End?

Published in The Independent on May 19, 2015

The scene is Old Trafford, where a young girl – playing for Manchester United – boots the ball and scores a goal. The crowd goes wild. This was the opening dream sequence of Gurinder Chadha’s much-loved 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, about a teenage Sikh tomboy named Jess, who defies her parents to play football. Continue reading “Can Bend It Like Beckham succeed in the West End?”

Review: High Society, Old Vic

Published in The Independent on May 15, 2015

What a treat this show is. A hotchpotch of previouses – adapted by Arthur Kopit from Philip Barry’s 1939 play The Philadelphia Story, but owing more to the 1956, Cole Porter-scored film version High Society, and with extra numbers from his back catalogue slipped in – this staging achieves the arguably rare feat of surpassing its filmic predecessor. Maria Friedman, a musicals veteran onstage, proves she’s just as good in the director’s chair, and the show certainly makes for a “swellegant, elegant” last hurrah for the Old Vic’s outgoing artistic director Kevin Spacey. Continue reading “Review: High Society, Old Vic”