An American In Paris – Dominion Theatre

An American In Paris is a musical by Craig Lucas with music by George and Ira Gershwin. It is based on the 1951 film starring Gene Kelly. The musical premiered in Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet in 2014 before hitting Broadway the year after and the West End in 2017.

Set in post-World War Two Paris, the main plot line centres on a beautiful dancer, Lise, who has three men in love with her and trying to woo her. The suitors are: Jerry Mulligan, an ex-American GI who is trying to make it as an artist; Adam Hochberg, a struggling artist and aspiring composer; and Henri Baurel, who is from a wealthy, traditional family but is secretly an aspiring singer-showman. The story gains depth from other love interests, hidden secrets and duties to pay old debts; however, it is essentially a simple, classic love story, with the question being “Who will get the girl?”

The musical is a dance show first and foremost. The choreography by Christopher Wheeldon is outstanding. The stylish, slick, sharp routines are mesmerising in their beauty and synchronicity. The whole cast are outstanding dancers, performing Wheeldon’s ingenious choreography with precision and panache.

The Gershwin musical score gave the show an air of old-school sophistication. ‘I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck’, ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘They Can’t Take Away From Me’ were standout numbers in the musical.

Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope (both having made their theatrical debuts with An American In Paris on Broadway) played Jerry Mulligan and Lise Dassin, giving standout performances with perfect grace and elegance throughout. Hayden Oakley (Side Show, Sunset Boulevard, The Smallest Show on Earth) was excellent as the flamboyant secret showman Henri and gave a wonderful rendition of ‘I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise’. David Seadon-Young (A Damsel In Distress, Assassins, Ghost) excelled as Adam, the morbid pianist and composer.

An American In Paris is a superb musical with sensational choreography and a wonderful cast of dancers. The show’s set was high-tech, clever and adaptable, but rather overactive and at times distracting.

An American In Paris is showing at the Dominion Theatre and is currently booking until 30th September 2017 (to book tickets, click here). To read more about your visit to the Dominion Theatre, visit West End Theatre Guide’s guide.


Honeymoon In Vegas: The Musical In Concert – London Palladium

Honeymoon in Vegas is a musical comedy by Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Bergman adapted from Bergman’s 1992 film starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicolas Cage. It tells the story of Jack Singer and his girlfriend of five years, Betsy Nolan, who have decided to marry in Vegas, despite Jack having promised his dying mother he’d never marry, but chaos ensues when Jack loses $58,000 in a poker game to Tommy Korman, a professional gambler who has decided he wants Betsy for himself because she reminds him of his late-wife.

The musical debuted on Broadway in November 2014 but closed a few months later despite critical acclaim. It made its West End debut in a one-off concert production by the London Musical Theatre Orchestra at the London Palladium with a star-studded cast.  

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra (founded by Freddie Tapner) had been keen to take on Honeymoon In Vegas ever since its Broadway debut, and welcomed Jason Robert Brown to conduct a full orchestra to his own musical score for a one-night-only extravaganza.

The “love triangle” cast included: Arthur Darvill (Treasure Island, Once, Our Boys) as Jack, who excelled in the role, opening the show with ‘I Love Betsy’; Samantha Barks (The Last Five Years, Oliver!, Les Miserables (film)) as Betsy, whose vocals were outstanding, particularly with ‘Betsy’s Getting Married’; and Maxwell Caulfield (Guys and Dolls, Singin’ In The Rain, Chicago) as Tommy, who gave an excellent performance of ‘Out Of The Sun’.

Rosemary Ashe (Sister Act, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) gave a hilarious performance as Jack’s mother, Bea. Simon Lipkin’s (Guys and Dolls, Miss Atomic Bomb, The Lorax) jazzy showman’s rendition of ‘When You Say Vegas’ was fantastic, and his Elvis-inspired ‘Higher Love’ was one of the highlights of the show. Maisey Bawden (Little Shop of Horrors, 27, Sound of Musical Live (TV)) was hysterical as Mahi, particularly with ‘Friki-Friki’.

Honeymoon In Vegas in concert with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra was a fabulous, special production with an incredibly talented cast and musicians.

For more information on the London Palladium, visit West End Theatre Guide’s website.  For more information about the London Musical Theatre Orchestra and their upcoming productions, click here.

Evita – UK Tour

Evita is a musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber which popularised the previously little known story of Eva Duarte de Perón, wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón. The musical began its life as a rock opera concept album in 1976 before debuting on the West End two years later.

Eva Perón began her life as a poor aspiring actress in Buenos Aires and, following career success, broadened her ambitions to politics. After meeting Colonel Juan Perón and identifying him as a potentially very powerful man, the two formed an alliance and she drove him to election as president, rallying support of the common people and promising he will be a faithful advocate of their interests.

With Argentina being a prosperous country at the time, exporting to European countries that had been depleted by World War II and with several countries owing them vast sums, the economy boomed and the Perón regime was glowingly hailed by the masses.

Eva Perón herself did much humanitarian work, aiding the poor, setting up a generous charitable organisation; and being a feminist, she encouraged women to campaign for the right to vote (granted in September 1947) and created the Perónist Women’s Party. However, despite the style, grace and empathy of the Peróns, they went to great lengths to maintain superiority and compliance, quashing opposition by closing newspapers and imprisoning critics.

The musical begins with the epilogue, showing the devastating scene of Eva Perón’s coffin and the people kneeling and crying for the loss of their much-loved First Lady. The story then flips back 15 years to Eva’s rise as an actress, cleverly casting a shadow over the story.

Eva Perón was played by Emma Hatton (Wicked, We Will Rock You, Dreamboats and Petticoats), who was excellent in the role, portraying the youthful, innocent side of Eva yet maintaining the strong, determined and manipulative front. Hatton’s performance of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ was breathtaking and tender.

Che was played by Gian Marco Schiaretti (Tarzan, Romeo and Juliet) who was outstanding in the role, particularly excelling with ‘And The Money Keeps Rolling In’, and broodingly stalking around the stage with great magnetism. Che is the show’s narrator and is able to look upon the Peróns’ circus with an ice cold eye. The character is thought to be based on real-life Argentine-Cuban political extremist, Che Guevara.

Overall, Evita is a heartbreaking, tragic story, powerfully brought to life by an outstanding score and cast.

Evita is currently on a national tour of the UK (for more information on tickets and dates, click here).

Lizzie – Greenwich Theatre

Lizzie is a musical by Tim Maner, Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt. It tells the story of the infamous, sensational American axe murder case of Lizzie Borden, with a cast of four incredibly powerful actresses/singers, backed by a fantastic band and a really strong rock score.

On 4th August 1892, in the town of Fall River, Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden allegedly killed her father and step-mother, but despite conflicting testimonies on the part of Lizzie and other witnesses, the burning of a dress a few days after the murders, and Lizzie’s want of prussic acid a few days before, she was acquitted at trial on 20th June 1893. The case remains to this day one of the world’s most famous unresolved mysteries, and Lizzie herself continued to reside in Fall River until her death.

The musical begins with the timid and shy young Lizzie facing abuse from her father, and with her sister, Emma, on the edge of murderous rage due to the sisters’ now disadvantaged position in their father’s new will now that he has re-married. Her only support seems to come from the housekeeper and a neighbour, but after several hints, prods and suggestions, the already unhinged Lizzie is sent over the edge when her father kills her beloved pigeons in the barn, decapitating them with a hatchet. By the end of act one, she is provoked into committing the deed, decapitating first her step-mother and then her father in splatters of blood and pumpkin guts.

There is an ingenious contrast between her fragile, disturbed, unbalanced character in the first act and her strong, uncaring and rather joyously unhinged character in the second act after the slaughter, giving a sense of liberation from her oppressive and cruel father and controlling step-mother.

Emma Borden, Lizzie’s older sister, is painted as the more angry, enraged and potentially vengeful sister, one of the driving forces behind her sweet little sister’s act of parricide, bringing out Lizzie’s pent-up rage and realising both of their fantasies. The housekeeper, Bridget Sullivan, is also portrayed as a pot-stirring puppet-master, subtly suggesting and quietly encouraging Lizzie to carry out the murders. In contrast, Alice Russell, the next-door neighbour and suggested lover of Lizzie, is the opposing character, cautioning against such drastic action and is reluctant to lie about what she’s seen to the police.

Bjorg Gamst (The Drowsy Chaperone, The Little Mermaid, The Three Musketeers) reprises her role as Lizzie from the original Danish production, and her interaction with Bleu Woodward (Oh! What A Lovely War, Kinky Boots, Hairspray), as Alice, was fantastic. Eden Espinosa (Wicked, Rent, Brooklyn the Musical) excels as elder sister Emma, particularly with ‘Sweet Little Sister’. Bridget is played by Jodie Jacobs (27, Carrie, Rock of Ages) who has outstanding vocal abilities and adds some very comic moments to the show.

It is a strongly feminist musical with an underlying “girl power” message throughout. Lizzie takes charge of her own destiny, refusing to suffer any more abuse and unhappiness. There is also a suggested romance between Lizzie and Alice in a time when lesbianism would have been considered scandalous. The cast of four women are all outstanding, with immensely powerful rock voices. The musical score is superb, with standout numbers including ‘Somebody Will Do Something’ and ‘The House of Borden’.

Lizzie is a thrilling, chilling, electric interpretation of the Borden murder-mystery legend set to an incredible rock score.  It is a must-see and we’d love to see it transfer.

Lizzie is showing at the Greenwich Theatre until 12th March (for more information and to book tickets, click here).