REVIEWS BY STAN MAZIN
WOMEN ON THE VERGE
OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, THE MUSICAL ; performed
at the Playhouse Theatre; book by Jeffrey Lane, music & lyrics by David
Yazbek; direction by Bartlett Sher; based on a film by Pedro Almodovar.
I’m sorry I didn’t see this on Broadway with my friend Brian
Stokes Mitchell, and Patti LuPone. The creators claimed to ‘improve’ their work
with this production, but, as I watched the
show I wondered why it didn’t grab me… and I feel the reason was that they
couldn’t decide if it was a comedy, a realistic play, or a farce. This play had all three ingredients but for
some reason they just didn’t gel for me.
I have to say the cast was very good, and some of the songs worked, and
many had the chaotic feeling of the title of the show, but a cohesiveness was lacking. The
set by Anthony Ward worked fine… but finally I was still a little hungry after
this theatrical meal.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT
OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME; based
on a Mark Haddon best seller, adapted by Simon Stephens, and heartfully directed
by Marianne Elliott; at the Gielgud Theatre, having moved from the Apollo when
the balcony fell down during a performance the end of ’13.
A wonderfully performed play about Asperger Syndrome. Abram Rooney playing Christopher the AS student was a delight to
view. The lead role is double cast as it
is such a difficult and tedious role. Kudos to the entire cast on this amazing play. I felt I saw the insides of a ‘problemed’ boy
and the difficulties he endured just to thrive. I am in awe of this production and was so happy I was able to see it.
THE PLAY THAT GOES
WRONG; at the Duchess Theatre; direction by Mark Bell, writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, & Henry
Shields; set by Nigel Hook; lighting by Ric Mountjoy, and costumes by Roberto
This ‘play within a play’ farce can be slightly compared to Noises Off in comedy style… very funny and performed without a hitch. As soon as you enter the theatre the
shenanigans begin, with the arguments and frustrations of a set that is not
ready for performance, along with a search for a lost dog. The play within the play is Murder at
Haversham Manor and winds up in hysteria. The ensemble cast is excellent. The ‘gymnastics’ of the cast as well as the set is truly exceptional,
and a good time was had by all.
NEVILLE’S ISLAND; a comedy by Tim Firth; at the Duke of
York’s Theatre; direction by Angus Jackson; set design by Robert Innes Hopkins.
This play is performed by 4 British comedians, Adrian
Edmondson, Miles Jupp, Neil Morrissey, and Robert Webb. Just to let you know a little about the
physical production: people in the front row were given parkas to wear as they
got wet when the actors came through the set, made of real ice, snow, and
water. I didn’t think I was going to
enjoy this play once it started but changed my mind after realizing that it showed how
several characters’ true feelings and emotions come forth once they are faced with
the reality that life may be limited. This may not sound like a comedy, but in the true nature of a good comedy
there is a serious message presented, and that does not take away from the
humor of the piece. This would be a
difficult play to perform without the ‘wet set’, but after all is said and
done, I had a good albeit dry time.
WHITE CHRISTMAS, THE MUSICAL; book
by David Ives & Paul Blake; set design by Anna Louizos; costume design by
Carrie Robbins; lighting by Ken Billington; sound design by Clement Wawling; choreography by Randy Skinner; direction by Morgan Young.
A more than capable cast performs this wonderful holiday
show at the Dominion Theatre, one of London’s largest venues. This is more of a traditional musical, well
performed by the entire cast, starring Aled Jones, Tom Chambers, with great
support from Louise Bowden, Graham Cole, Wendi Peters, Rachel Stanley, and a
slew of talented singers and dancers . The choreography was superb as were the Irving Berlin songs we all know
and love so well. Seeing this show after
Christmas certainly did not deter from the wonderful joy this show brings to
CITY OF ANGELS;
book by Larry Gelbart; music by Cy Coleman; lyrics by David Zippel; directed by Josie Rourke, for the Donmar Warehouse.
Donmar Warehouse is known to put on terrific productions,
and this one is no different. City of
Angels is about a writer and the story he writes, and the director has kept the
tradition of presenting the writers' life in living color and the characters and storyline from his typewriter in black and white. The lighting by Howard Harrison is
extraordinary in helping with just this theme. For a little theatre, they have fantastic effects which bring this show to life. It is the best of all the
productions of this show I have seen.
GHOST STORIES; at the Arts Theatre; by Andy Nyman &
Jeremy Dyson; directed by Jeremy Dyson, Sean Holmes, & Andy Nyman; set
& costumes by Jon Bausor; lighting by James Farncombe; sound by Nick
Manning; special effects by Scott Penrose.
When a show is called Ghost Stories you have expectations of
‘being scared’ or ‘spooked’. This show
did not disappoint! This basically 4
character cast starring Paul Kemp, Simon Holmes, Chris Levens, and Gary
Shelford held my interest from the moment it began. Professor Goodman (Paul Kemp) begins with a
lecture on ‘FEAR’, and his interviews are based on this subject. The ‘stories’ come alive, and with the help
of the set, sound, and lighting, we are all subjected to the surprise elements
erupting from the ghost stories. Thoroughly enjoyable! I am so happy I came to this theatre having never
attended a performance there before.
LOVE, THE PLAY;
Adapted for the
stage by Lee Hall; direction by Declan Donnellan; set design by Nick Ormerod; performed at the
Noel Coward Theatre.
Not being a Shakespeare aficionado, I was surprisingly blown away by
this piece. So funny and poignant at the
same time! Beautifully acted by Tom
Bateman and Lucy Briggs-Owen as the leads and beautifully supported by a
wonderful supporting cast, this show just flew by for me. I never wanted it to be over. The leads showed more versatility between
comedy and drama than I would have expected. And beautifully directed with the use of a
fantastic set that captured the element of the Old Globe Theatre. Absolutely this was one of my highlights this
year in London.
DANCE ‘TIL DAWN;
book by Ed Curtis; director and co-choreographer Karen Bruce, other co-choreographers Flavia Cacace and Vincent
Simone; creators Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone; set designer Morgan
Large; costume designer Vicky Gill; and light design by James Whiteside, with music & orchestrator Chris Egan; and assistant director and choreographer
Elliot Nixon; Aldwych Theatre.
This delicious piece is the conception of the creators whom
you may recognize from their many ‘Tango’ shows, who wanted their new show to
have a ‘Broadway’ type feel. Under the
vale of a 40s murder mystery, including a detective who breaks the fourth wall
and talks to the audience, having myself come from a dance background, I
absolutely LOVED this show! The actors
are too numerous to mention, but each did their job to the fullest, creating an
entertainment that you never wanted to end.
And the ‘bimbo’, Abby Osman, has such a magnificent singing voice. The show climaxed with the best Tango dance
number performed by Flavia and Vincent I have ever seen. All in all, a fantastic piece of theatre that
MISS SAIGON; at the Prince Edward Theatre; music by
Claude-Michel Schonberg; lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr & Alain Boublil; direction by Laurence Connor; musical staging by Bob Avian; additional choreography by Goeffrey Garratt; production designed by Totie Driver &
Matt Kinley with sound design by Mick Potter.
I have seen this show at least 7 or 8 times and this
production is probably the best one I’ve witnessed. I believe this is my favorite musical of all
time (including West Side Story). This
production far exceeded my expectations, especially since I heard they
‘updated’ this one slightly. The leads
included Jon Jon Briones (based out of Los Angeles) as the Engineer, Eva
Noblezada as Kim (West End debut in
London), Alistair Brammer as Chris, Tamsin Carroll as Ellen, Hugh Maynard as
John, and Kwang-Ho Hong as Thuy… each and every one of them brilliant in this
remarkable show. The girls’ dance
numbers are sexier than ever and they are more scantily clothed than other
productions I’ve seen, and their more suggestive body language is
apparent. I had heard they took out the
helicopter… UNTRUE!!! That scene worked
wonderfully, as did all the group scenes filled with the additional cast
members. I can’t say enough about this
show… and this production. Exquisite!!!
Well that’s it for now… 10 shows, not bad… I was only
there for 8 nights. Talk to you after my
New York trip in April.