*** (3 Stars)
Southwark Playhouse, London - September, 2014
Set in the vibrant city of San Francisco in the rock ‘n’ roll year of 1963, this remarkable show follows the complicated relationship of the eager young Marine, Eddie Birdlace, with the gentle, charming waitress, Rose. Along with his fellow Marine chums, ‘The Bees’, Birdlace embarks on his final night out, before leaving for Vietnam the following morning. Their journey takes them on a whirlwind ride, they’ll never forget.
The story is told effortlessly by the talented cast and flows smoothly through Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s beautiful music and lyrics along with, YMT's Catfish! The Musical’s own, Lucie Pankhurst’s, quirky and bright choreography. Although the show as a whole takes time to gather momentum, once it does you won’t want it to ever end! Each performer is as dynamic as the next and the chemistry between the entire cast was a joy to watch, both on and off stage. Combining a great balance of emotional solos along with high-energy group numbers, the show offers a splendid variety for the audience.
The wonderfully witty book, by Peter Duchan, questions the need for war, highlights the strain it causes on relationships and humans’ natural instincts; yet has the ability to make the audience both laugh and cry uncontrollably. I feel the show really captured the essence of the camaraderie war brought upon young men, against the realistic fear it held in the hearts of young women. Although it’s set in San Francisco, 1963, I feel the messages portrayed are universally relatable and current.
Located in the intimate Southwalk Playhouse Theatre this show is only available until Saturday 13 of September. Therefore if you’re in need of a stimulating, moving, fresh and captivating evening, book your tickets now!
***** (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/