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Billy Elliot - Youth Music Theatre UK

Billy Elliot Competition!

10/04/15

Win a pair of top-price tickets to the smash-hit musical!

It’s Billy’s birthday! On Tuesday 12 May, Billy Elliot the Musical marks 10 years in the West End. One of the most celebrated, award-winning musicals on stage today, Billy Elliot has been dazzling London since 2005, and has gone on to captivate audiences around the world. Now we’re offering Youth Music Theatre UK members the chance to see the show in its 10th birthday year, with a pair of top price tickets up for grabs.

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever. With unforgettable music by Elton John, sensational dance and a powerful storyline, Billy Elliot the Musical is an astonishing theatrical experience will stay with you forever.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Billy Elliot joins a class specialising in what form of dance?

A) Jazz
B) Tap
C) Ballet

Ts&Cs: Prize valid for Monday – Thursday evening performances only. Tickets are subject to availability; non-transferable and exclusions apply. Blackout dates apply (12 May; 25 – 30 May). Travel costs are not included in this competition.

Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons - Review by Sean Brooks

15/06/14

*** (3 Stars)

Donmar Warehouse, London - Saturday 14 June, 2014

Ivan Turgenev’s 1862 novel was adapted by renowned Irish playwright Brian Friel and premiered at the National Theatre in 1987. Now it’s been revived at the Donmar Warehouse under the direction of the acclaimed Lyndsey Turner.

Fathers and Sons deals with generational difference and radical political philosophies in late nineteenth-century Russia, namely nihilism (the rejection of all religious and moral principles). We follow Arkady (Joshua James) who has returned home after graduating along with friend Bazarov (Seth Numrich). Their newfound beliefs cause tension within the house – particularly with Arkady’s uncle Pavel (Tim McMullan) – as they begin their quest to ‘revolutionise’ Russia. Arkady and Bazarov soon begin to question their own beliefs when they each fall in love with sisters Katya (Phoebe Sparrow) and Anna (Elaine Cassidy) respectively.

At first, Numrich’s Bazarov is irritatingly arrogant and his cockiness soon becomes overbearing. However, as we see his inner-turmoil bubble to the surface, his descent is inescapably touching. James’ Arkady has similar glimpses of greatness, but is a little melodramatic at times.

There are fine performances from the ensemble, particularly Arkady’s endearing father Nikolai (Anthony Calf) and Bazarov’s father Vassily (Karl Johnson). However, a slight quibble would be the female characters: they’re frustratingly two-dimensional and have stories that go relatively unexplored, particularly Nikolai’s serf-mistress Fenichka’s (Caoilfhionn Dunne) battle with juggling her new social position.

Overall, this is an interesting production that examines humanity’s longing to be loved both in a romantic sense and a familial sense. There are highly-impressive design elements from Rob Howell and the ensemble work brilliantly together.

Fathers and Sons is playing at the Donmar Warehouse until 26 July. Book your tickets here: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com 

In The Heights

In The Heights - Review by Alice Clemens

20/05/14

***** (5 Stars)

Southwark Playhouse, London - Friday 16 May, 2014

In The Heights at the Southwark Playhouse is outstanding.

The production is an explosion of colour and fun. Under the direction of Luke Sheppard, the cast are incredible. The story follows Usnavi, played brilliantly by Sam Mackay, whose parents moved from the Dominican Republic to create a new life in Washington Heights, New York. The relatively sparse but colourful set is brought to life as the action unfolds and the audience meet the characters that impact on Usnavi’s life as they all struggle to make lives for themselves.

The hilariously sassy Daniela, who owns the local beauty salon, is portrayed perfectly by Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and has the entire audience in hysterics after every line or movement. With standout company numbers such as “Carnaval del Barrio” and “Alabanza” the infectious, Latin-infused music, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, isn’t a genre typically heard in musical theatre and that’s what makes it so refreshing.

The entire production is so full of energy and it's so obvious that the cast are loving it as much as the audience. It feels so honest and that is down to the passion that every member of the cast clearly has for this musical. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did the rest of the audience who made it clear as we leapt to our feet during the blackout before the music had even ended!

The vocals are flawless, Drew McOnie’s fast-paced choreography is perfectly executed and I’ve already booked tickets to see it again. This is a production that is NOT to be missed!

In The Heights is playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 7 June. Buy your tickets here: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/index.php/the-large/in-the-heights/ 
 

Spring Awakening Richmond

Spring Awakening - Review by Sean Brooks

08/05/14

*** (3 Stars)

Richmond Theatre, London - May 8, 2014

In a new version by Anya Reiss, Frank Wedekind’s controversial play of teenage angst is brought bang up to date by the supremely successful theatre company, Headlong. Written around 1890 (but first performed in 1906), Spring Awakening was last seen in London in its musical form at the Novello Theatre in 2009. Reiss’ play utilises webcams and a killer soundtrack in this truly Brechtian piece.

The story follows a group of teenagers as they deal with all the horrors of adolescence. Written in reaction to the increasing rates of teenage suicide due to a lack of education around adolescence in late 19th-Century Germany, Wedekind’s original is tinged with sadness and frustration.

Reiss’ adaptation doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to representing this and instead feels rather superficial in its reliance upon technical tricks and projections. At times it feels as if it’s trying to be too clever, ultimately leading to a sense of pretentiousness.

This is partly down to the Brechtian nature of the piece – a style that I am not convinced entirely works with hard-hitting subject matters. The copious amounts of breaking character can be confusing to audiences unfamiliar with this style.

Young audiences will love it, and rightly so, for this is truly boundary-pushing theatre. However, for me, it lacks the emotional punch of Duncan Sheik’s musical version and focuses too much on trying to be clever.
 

Spring Awakening is currently on a UK Tour. http://headlong.co.uk/work/spring-awakening/

Oh My Sweet Land Young Vic

Oh My Sweet Land - Review by Sean Brooks

18/04/14

*** (3 Stars)

Young Vic, London - Thursday 17 April, 2014

The conflict in Syria is poignantly brought to life at the Young Vic in Amir Nizar Zuabi’s touching play. Performed by German-Syrian actor Corrine Jaber, Oh My Sweet Land draws its inspiration from the stories told by Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Throughout the one-hour piece, Jaber is preparing kubah: a traditional Syrian dish that her grandmother used to cook. Detailed descriptions of making the perfect kubah coupled with the smell of frying onions and spices evoke a strong sense of memory and Juber’s quest of belonging.

This seems to be a motif throughout the play; the upheaval caused by the Syrian conflict has led to a generation of victims disconnected from their home. 2.5 million refugees uprooted from everything they hold close and attempting to find hope in the destruction with only their memories to hold onto. This is the message that stays with you throughout.

Jaber recounts her journey to Syria, where she starts a relationship with Ashraf, a married man she met in Paris. Although this is a fictional framing device, intertwined are stories from the refugees giving the whole piece the authenticity needed to make the audience listen.

Zubai's piece sometimes drops in pace and descriptions can perhaps go on too long, however, Oh My Sweet Land is nevertheless an important piece of theatre that deserves to be seen.

Oh My Sweet Land is playing at the Young Vic until 3 May - http://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/oh-my-sweet-land

 

 

 

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