Broadway · exhibitions · London · Musical · play · review · Theatre · West End

Curtain Up at the V&A

IMG_6145As the Olivier Awards turn 40, the V&A has created an exhibition exploring the last four decades of theatre, plays and musicals on West End and Broadway. It was evident I needed to go and have a look.

Featuring backstage details, first scripts, notes and editorial requests, I felt as though I was getting a small glimpse into the hidden side of theatre. The exhibition held design plans, amazingly scaled model boxes, costume designs and even lightening plans, it shows just how much work is required to begin the staging process, let alone the ongoing work once a production has started.

There were interactive elements, allowing you to arrange the sound of Hairspray, balancing the singers and musicians alike. Equally a lighting deck presented the many spotlights and various coordination of lighting available to the light managers each evening. It showcased the work required for each production to even exist, the detail of plans and notes to ensure each show is perfect.

I also learned a lot more of the world of theatre, various facts and figures were presented across the exhibition, showing the difference between West End and Broadway productions but also the similarities and incredible records some productions held to their name.

IMG_6147It was great to see the set and costume designs for one of my favourite shows: Matilda, to see the essence of the character in each sketch and the grand scale of the stage. Alongside stepping into the stage of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, allowing you to feel the confusion Christopher goes through on stage.

If you’re around London and a theatre fan, it’s an exhibition not to be missed. The exhibition is at the V&A until 31st August before it moves to New York.

Broadway · Musical · play · review · Theatre · West End

A summer of theatre

ProgrammesAlthough autumn has now crept its way to us, I wanted to revisit my summer of theatre. From London’s West End to New York’s Broadway, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some wonderful plays and musicals over the last few months.

I began with a revisit to a show I’ve already written about, Matilda the Musical stayed with me for weeks as I relived the songs and cunning struggle Matilda herself portrayed. It was equally energetic, thrilling and fast paced – a delight even more so the second time round.

MEMPHISMemphis had been recommended to me on numerous occasions, and it more then lived up to its name. A fresh and uplifting portrayal of race-ridden America, where inequalities are fought against, race is questions and Huey goes against all odds and expectations. Currently staring Beverly Knight and Matt Cradle their powerful voices carried the performance in their fight for justice – an incredible performance.

Next on my list was The Railway Children, currently set at Kings Cross station. The story remained as it has for years, simple and spell-binding, with the stage and steam train standing out as the highlight of this production. It was clever and self-aware, leaving the steam train to take central stage, physically and metaphorically.

GypsyI was also lucky enough to see Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton, who triumphed in her role as Momma Rose. Her determination and power made for one of the strongest characters on stage, with such an outstanding cast the performance was mesmerising, covering themes of love, jealousy, rebellion and determination.

Finding NeverlandMoving across the pond, my very first Broadway show was the phenomenal Finding Neverland, this musical has stayed with me over the last month, as I play the soundtrack on repeat. I loved the storyline, the clever twist of incorporating the well-known tale of Peter Pan to J.M. Barrie’s own thoughts. The cast were brilliant, the songs and lyrics clever, lively and touching. It may well have over taken Matilda in my favourite musical, and that’s a hard feat to beat.

On a very different scale, Kinky Boots tackled much harder themes, gender, sexuality as we identify who we are. The set and use of stage adapted for each scene, the boots were kinky and the cast, especially Lola, impressive. It was a great adaptation, and not surprisingly now appearing in London’s West End.

HamletFinishing off my theatre trip was a play I’ve long been anticipating, Hamlet; having bought tickets over a year ago, it was finally time to see Benedict Cumberbatch in his lead role. As a fan of both Shakespeare and Cumberbatch, the play was always on my wish list, and lived up to its name. I found it easier to follow then any previous Shakespeare I’ve viewed, it was funny and dark- everything required by a tragedy. Cumberbatch was phenomenal in his role, passionate and moving; everything Hamlet should be.

Now my next challenge is to fill autumn with trips to Manchester’s theatres…