REVIEW: ‘Fame the Musical’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, June 2019

 

Fame the Musical is lighting up the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, delivering a high-energy burst of nostalgia for fans of the film and inspiring a brand new generation.

This revamped 30th anniversary production, directed and choreographed by Nick Winston, brings a fresh vibrancy to the original teen musical.

Long before Glee (2009 – 2015) and High School Musical (2006), Fame mixed an intoxicating cocktail of drama, music, singing and dancing to chronicle the lives of performing arts students mastering their craft in anticipation of a big break. The film was released in 1980 and swiftly became a sensation, generating a popular television show and a smash-hit stage musical.

Currently touring the UK, the latest rendering of Fame the Musical is entertaining audiences with dynamic dance and electrifying vocals. And THAT song; that triumphant theme tune you just can’t help but remember? Well, it doesn’t have its moment centre stage until the finale so I’m still humming it now!

 

Fame the Musical. 2018/2019 UK tour.

 

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REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ in-the-round – Royal Albert Hall, June 2019

 

English National Ballet’s Cinderella in-the-round reimagines the rags-to-riches story as a stunning fairy tale for our times.

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon develops a quirky narrative centred around humanity and nature. In short, Cinderella’s compassion, creativity and courage – combined with a little mystical assistance from her dearly departed mother – help her make her own magic.

Wheeldon devised his imaginative interpretation in 2012, as a co-production between Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He has revisited it for English National Ballet, restaging it as Cinderella in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

Cinderella in-the-round campaign photography of Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola by Jason Bell.

 

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REVIEW: The Royal Ballet’s ‘Medusa’ mixed bill (‘Within the Golden Hour / Medusa / Flight Pattern’) – Live Cinema Season, May 2019

 

The Royal Ballet confidently dances distinctive works from three leading contemporary choreographers in the Medusa mixed bill: Within the Golden Hour / Medusa / Flight Pattern.

 

Medusa is a brand new narrative work from acclaimed Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Created on The Royal Ballet, with Natalia Osipova in the title role, it is his first commission for the Company.

Cherkaoui draws on his training in ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and flamenco to devise dance for an impressive range of performers. His eclectic style means he is in demand with major ballet companies and major pop stars alike. He is artistic director of Royal Ballet of Flanders; artistic director of his own contemporary dance company, Eastman; and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells.

Within the Golden Hour, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is an abstract ballet devised for San Francisco Ballet in 2008 and first performed by The Royal Ballet in 2006.

Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991. He later moved to New York City Ballet where he was promoted to soloist before becoming the Company’s first resident choreographer. Wheeldon, who was made an OBE in 2016, is now artistic associate of The Royal Ballet and regularly choreographs for leading international companies.

Flight Pattern was Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s first work for The Royal Ballet. When this large-scale ensemble piece exploring the plight of refugees premiered in 2017, it was the Company’s first new mainstage work by a woman in eighteen years.

Pite is a former member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet. Her professional choreographic debut was in 1990, at Ballet British Columbia, and she has since created more than fifty works. Pite is the recipient of three Olivier awards, including one in 2017 for Flight Pattern.

 

Broadcasting performances such as the Medusa mixed bill in cinemas makes it possible for audiences outside London to experience exceptional dance. Long may the creation, and widespread consumption, of ballet continue – I love being able to pop to my local cinema to watch The Royal Ballet in action!

 

Medusa mixed bill

 

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REVIEW: ‘Les Misérables’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2019

 

The soul-stirring lyrics in musical phenomenon Les Misérables ask “do you hear the people sing?”. Without a doubt, appreciative audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre will be responding with an exhilarated ‘yes’ and a standing ovation for the entire four-week run of the tremendous touring production.

Theatregoers storm the barricades for tickets to this show. I dreamed a dream that I would be invited to join the revolution and found myself in my own castle on a cloud at Milton Keynes Theatre’s gala press night. The theatre is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and boasts a team of staff who are justifiably thrilled to have secured such a lengthy visit from Les Misérables – everyone in the building seems to be in awe of this stage sensation.

As one of the lucky revolutionaries invited for bubbles before the show, I was fizzing in anticipation well before the drinks were poured. Les Misérables is the longest-running musical in the West End and is consistently named as a global favourite alongside Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Although I’m familiar with Victor Hugo’s epic nineteenth-century novel, the blockbuster films, the classic soundtrack and amateur theatre interpretations, I have never seen the London production (it opened back in 1985, long before I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye!).

Having now seen the show performed on tour in all its glory, I can fully appreciate the scale of its success. But what can I possibly say that has not already been said over the last thirty-four years? At the end of the day, Les Misérables is musical theatre perfection.

 

Les Misérables

 

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Victoria’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2019

 

Northern Ballet’s Victoria is an enthralling epic that intelligently and emotively chronicles Queen Victoria’s life as a monarch and mother.

Created to celebrate this year’s 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, the ambitious two-act ballet is the impressive handiwork of acclaimed British choreographer Cathy Marston. Her spirited exploration of Victoria as a passionate woman, emblematic queen, working mother and stricken widow inventively depicts some of the most significant events in this remarkable Royal’s life.

Working alongside dramaturg Uzma Hameed, Marston has managed to condense Victoria’s lengthy reign (she spent 63 of her 81 years on the throne) into two hours of absorbing dance.

 

Northern Ballet's 'Victoria'.

 

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