fiction · Harry Potter · literature · London · performance · review · Theatre · West End

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has claimed its place as the play of the year — it is quite simply magic.

hp-the-trioI am more than happy to admit that I am a Potterhead, I’ve read the books more times than I can count, watched the films; I’ve been to the studio, the wizarding world in Orlando, and most of the UK film locations too. So of course, I found myself online last year waiting patiently in the queue for tickets of J.K.Rowlings eighth story.

Wow, just wow, it was worth the wait.

From the emergence of familiar faces, characters we’ve seen grow up to the new; Albus and Scorpius create a duo based on strong friendship and a desire for justice. It’s a story that holds parallels to the series, that of bravery and friendship but also unexpected twists and turns. We return to some of the most memorable times of Harry’s world, in a totally new light, exploring the manner in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight with the past. But this is truly a tale of Albus and Scorpius and a lesson on magic’s restrictions in today’s world. Albus’ determination mirrors Harry’s own adventures of bravery, and at times disobedience, with one of times biggest lessons to learn.

The theatrical side of this production is really where the play outshone. I’ve never witnessed such clever incorporations of dance, choreography and scene changes — allowing the story to flow continuously.

hp-hogwarts

Yet it is the magic of the show that takes centre stage, perhaps it’s the magic of theatre, the belief of the audience or the Harry Potter world the audience knows and loves. Spells from the good-old expelliarmus, to duels between Harry and Draco were dotted through the performance. My favourites included the use of polyjuice position, I still don’t understand how it happened on stage, to transporting into the Ministry of Magic in the famous red telephone box, and of course the use of floo power. Magic as I have never seen albus-and-scorpiusit before.

Writing about a show can never do it justice, especially a play embedded with magic from start to finish. Sam Clemmett captures Albus’ attributes perfectly, his sidekick Scorpius, Anthony Boyle, and their friendship is one of the strongest I have ever seen on stage. The golden trio are, of course, perfectly cast and captured. A production that shines with talent.

I laughed, I cried and I wanted to head straight back in for more. This was a most magical experience, brilliantly portrayed on stage — the perfect extension to Harry’s story.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at The Palace Theatre, London – currently sold out until 2017 (with more tickets coming soon!). You can read about my ponderings of the play, and other Potter reviews here.

Finding Neverland · Harry Potter · London · Musical · play · Preview · The Girls · Theatre · West End

Looking Forward to the West End

As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins to hold previews this week, it’s time to look forward to the plays and musicals that are soon to open.

cursed-child-palace-theaterI managed to gain Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets back in October, although I’ve still got five months until I see the play in November, the recent photo releases have certainly intrigued me. The world has been waiting for the next Potter instalment for nine years, and I am certainly excited to see what Harry has been up to. We will re-visit the magical world once again, it’s almost like going back home. The two-part play will be a first for me, an insight into splitting the story in two – but a whole day at the theatre can only be a good thing.

FindingNeverland0040_Rev02-OBC-1024x683Next on my list is Finding Neverland, I fell in love with the story, the music and the characters when I saw the original broadway cast in the Lunt-Fontanne theatre, New York. Thankfully, they’re flying the show over to London, landing in January 2017. I’m looking forward to re-emerging myself into the story of how Peter become Pan, a story within a story, full of life, laughter and sorrow.

Finally, Gary Barlow’s The Girls is ready to make it’s West End debut in 2017. Having seen The Girls premiere in The Lowry, Manchester; the musical was one destined for London’s stage. It’s depiction of Yorkshire was amusingly realistic, and the songs full of humour and heartache. It’s a musical to make you laugh and cry.

So I have a few theatre trips to plan, and many more plays to review this autumn and winter. Are there any new play you’re looking forward to?

London · Musical · Phantom of the Opera · review · Theatre · West End

The Phantom of the Opera

The first May bank holiday arrived, and with the sun shining, I headed to London for the long weekend and, of course, a musical.

Phantom - boatCurrently in its 30th year, phantom had been scaring the stage and keeping the audience on their toes in critical acclaim. It’s been a musical I’ve been waiting to see for a while. Full of suspense and the power of music. Yet I was surprised by the many stories told within this tale. The original opera working in parallel to the Phantom’s own musical. It’s an incredible act of story telling. While simultaneously creating a range of emotions which take the audience through this journey.

Further to this, the elaborate staging enhanced the story line, the boat through the Phantom’s later was incredible to watch, a space full of suspense, appeared intimate despite the full house. Let alone the many secrets spaces the Phantom himself managed to hide within, taking me by surprise each time.

It was a breathtaking experience, the incredible cast and music kept the audience spell-bound throughout. It made me wish, once again, that I could somehow be apart of this theatre world, but we’ll just have to see what time will bring.

phantom

The Phantom of the Opera is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, this classic is not to be missed.

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.

art · exhibitions · galleries · gallery · London · review · Royal Academy

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is a depiction of art and politics, presenting how one man through a variety of mediums can stand up to his beliefs.

The Royal Academy has produced this exhibition in such a way that a clear story can be felt through the artwork, not too obvious at first, yet as you make your way through the exhibition space, the message of a repressed, limiting and secretive society can be unearthed.

There were a few pieces that really struck me, the twisted bars to represent each child killed in the 2008 earthquake; flattered now but still holding scars in a slight curve or bent in the metal. It was unimaginable to believe that these children were not named nor represented by the Chinese government. Remarkable in number yet so simple and symbolic in Weiwei’s work.

It was these deliberate decision to ignore that alters to the drastic need to observe as you’re moved through the exhibition. It’s hard to imagine Weiwei’s artwork without the overshadowing nature of his own political beliefs. The security cameras made of ceramic portray this shattering line of reality and fear.

IMG_5649But what caught my the attention most had to be the recreated jail of Weiwei, held without reason and observed 24 hours a day. The parallel of it being included in the exhibition opened it up into  two-way mirror, as we observed Weiwei’s own observation. It was overpowering and impossible to see how this happens in the modern world, making me reevaluate the freedom we hold in our county.

Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is on at the Royal Academy until 13th December, certainly worth a visit.

London · Miss Siagon · Musical · Theatre · West End

Miss Saigon

Having played the music a few years ago, I finally visited the Prince Edward theatre for a performance of Miss Saigon.

EngineerThe show started with a bang, very suddenly we were transported to Vietnam, to a life of war as helicopters seemed to fly above our very heads. Opening the show, the Engineer engaged glamour to the bar he sold off his girls in, before providing light relief in his humour throughout the shows darker scenes. It may have begun in a world of perceived glamour and glory but reality soon hit home.

Kim and ChrisKim completely stole the show for me, as she transported the audience in her journey of love, hope, anger and betrayal. She represented the true harshness of war and the reality of our actions. Her desperation to regain control and find Chris in a world so distant form her own emphasises the passion and ability within us all to follow our hearts.

With outstanding music, clever scenery and an amazing portrayal of life in the Vietnam war, this production is certainly worth a visit.

Be quick, the final flight is scheduled for 27th February 2016

London · Matilda · Musical · West End

Matilda the Musical

When I was taken to see Matilda the Musical at the end of last year, I’ll admit I was expecting something similar to the film from my childhood.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

MatildaFrom the very start I fell in love with the music, the lyrics, the actors and of course little Matilda. The show moved at such a fast pace, the audience were transported to Matilda’s brilliant brain and her naughty temptations. It permitted us to reach out, become petrified of Miss Trunchball; become as mischievous as Matilda and fight for the chance to be a little bit naughty.

So it seemed the logical thing to visit the show again and be spell bound in Roald Dahl’s imagination. It was even better second time around. I knew the songs, I understood the story and because of all of this I was able to focus on smaller things, to really listen out for some fabulous lyrics, spot clever set designs and incredible acting.

MatildaThe show portrays the very best aspects of childhood, when we dreamed of eating sweets on our way to work or watching cartoons until our eyes went square. But now that I can, it just doesn’t have the same appeal. The only advantage is I don’t have a teacher like Miss Trunchball nor Parents like the Wormwoods, for that I count myself very lucky.

Matilda was outstanding, with that one little girl stealing the show. Its the cleverness of the choreography, the lyrics and of course the acting that makes this play stand out from the rest.

Matilda the Musical is playing at the Cambridge Theatre, London.